Expatica news

Football fed vetoes Catalan game with U.S.

13 September 2007

MADRID – (AFP) – The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on Wednesday confirmed it was vetoing a mooted friendly international between the eastern region of Catalonia and the United States, which had been slated for October 14.

“The Federation voted no to this match at a meeting of its supervisory body,” an RFEF spokesman told AFP

Sunil Gulati, chairman of the United States Soccer Federation, said in a statement that the issue of the match had raised “a lot of questions.”

He explained: “They (the Catalans) want to play the game and we would like to play the game, but we certainly won’t play the game unless the Spanish Federation approves it.”

The RFEF had already said on September 3 it opposed the match, with its board rejecting the idea by 18 votes to three, despite the Catalan regional federation (FCF) reaching agreement for the game with US counterparts, according to FCF sources.

One of the reasons the RFEF put forward was that Spain are themselves playing Denmark a day earlier in a Euro 2008 qualifier and then on the 17th a friendly against Finland.

Occasionally, such as during the Christmas and New Year break, regional sides have played in friendlies and last October Catalonia played a Basque regional select XI.

On Tuesday, Barcelona chairman Joan Laporta had complained about the RFEF opposition.

“I do not understand why Spain systematically prevents us (the Catalans) from playing matches or official competitions.”

The issue is sensitive, however, as it has wider political ramifications than sport, in a region where catalan nationalism is very strong.

Catalonia’s government contains a small pro-independence party and since the region’s autonomy statute was upgraded last year and the issue is once again to the fore six months ahead of general elections.

Conservative media including El Mundo and ABC newspapers on Wednesday had front-page coverage showing the Catalan “senyera” flag flying from official buildings Tuesday to celebrate the “diada” or Catalan “national” day.

The papers complained that the Spanish constitution says the Spanish flag is supposed to fly from official buildings.

Generally, autonomous regions fly their own flag alongside the national equivalent.

[Copyright AFP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news