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Jose Carreras explains why the Three Tenors will miss the World Cup and discusses his Catalan pride

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The opera singer Jose Carreras has told BBC World that although the Three Tenors would be "quite happy" to perform at football's World Cup in June, "a number of circumstances" mean that he, Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo will miss the tournament for the first time in 16 years.

In an interview to be broadcast on the HARDtalk extra programme today (27th), the Catalan also says that while he will support Spain when they play in this year's championships in Germany, he would prefer to be cheering for an independent Catalan national side.

The Three Tenors performed together at the FIFA championships in Italy (1990), the United States of America (1994), France (1998) and Japan and South Korea (2002).

Asked by presenter Gavin Esler whether they will sing together again, Carreras, 59, replies: "Maybe. We have been approached also now this year for the World Cup in Germany and, for a number of circumstances, it will not happen. It is a pity. The three of us were quite happy to do it, but there are a number of circumstances that made this project not possible." He does not elaborate on what these "circumstances" are.

Carreras - an ardent supporter of Barcelona football club - also discusses his pride in being Catalan, and the present-day differences in everyday life around Spain, compared to the situation under the dictator General Franco, who ruled from 1939 to 1975.

"If you live under a repression, if you live under a dictatorship, you are not allowed to speak in your own language, you are not allowed to read the books in your own language, you are not allowed to keep your own identity, your own roots, your traditions, and this is what Franco was doing to us.

"And of course, you have this reaction against the oppressor, and this is why in Catalonia we have been trying very hard to keep our identity. Barcelona FC was one of the possibilities we had, to go there, to say, 'Go Barca!', and it was more rather Catalonia all together: not only the football team, but also the political idea, also the nationalistic kind of feeling."

He continues: "I feel more Catalan than Spanish?I feel a little bit different, not better, not worse, but a little bit different, because we have our own language, our own traditions. We are a little country somehow, because of our history."

When questioned on whether he can bring himself to support Spain in the World Cup, he replies: "Well, of course, it is the closest neighbour?but here again, I want to be very open. I would like to have a Catalan national team."

Jose Carreras will be seen on HARDtalk extra on Friday 27th January. The programme will be broadcast globally on BBC World at 1000, 1400, 1700, 2100 IST

Ends

For further information contact:

Deeptie Sethi/ Neha Sharma Priyanki Ahluwalia

BBC World Genesis Public Relations

Tel: 91 11 2341 2672/73 Ext. 102 Tel: 95124 504 4999 Ext. 62

Email: deeptie.sethi@bbc.co.uk Email: pahluwalia@genesispr.com

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