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The great night of the Catalonia football team

For the first time the Selecciò plays during the 'International window', despite it's not affiliated to FIFA

The great night of the Catalonia football team For the first time the Selecciò plays during the 'International window', despite it's not affiliated to FIFA

There was not any need to refute the thesis that 'the stop for the National teams is no sense', but in the football period now universally known as the International break, everything has happened: we are not referring only to the CR7 injury which has made the Juventus fans worry about it, the new faces of Mancini's Italy or the exploits of the new European superpowers, France and England. For the first time, in Catalonia a match was played during the so-called 'FIFA window'. The protagonist of this historic debut is the Catalan selection, which organized the home friendly against Venezuela: a competition with a very strong political flavor. If Catalonia has been a movement for independence for years, Venezuela is facing one of the darkest moments in its history, left alone from the International community and on the brink of civil war between former president Maduro and the new popular force led by Guaidó.

La Selecció has been waiting for this moment for a long time: founded in 1904 (and sixteen years before the RFEF, the Spanish Federation) and protagonist of more than a hundred friendlies in its long history made of champions (from Zamora and Kubala to finish with Fabregas and Puyol) and many claims, it has not played for over two years. The last time, in December 2016 against Tunisia, the recent institutional issues between the autonomist movement and the Spanish government had not yet started, just as the referendum for the separation clearly triumphed over won by the independence movement, never considered by the central government. Despite an increasing consideration on the International level, the team of the autonomous community in the meantime has not changed its status (continuing not to be recognized by FIFA and not even affiliated to CONIFA, the Confederation that includes minor and independent football selections such as Padania, Greenland, Northern Cyprus and Kurdistan, for example), but this time at least she was able to receive permission to be able to play simultaneously with the real National teams, and not during the Christmas period as in the past. Not such a special fact, but 'a paso màs' towards a full recognition that is still very far away.

For the most unique occasion of manifesting their membership in the Catalan football movement, feeling 100% involved in the events of the small local selection, no footballers had pulled back. But it was the clubs that denied the presence of the Catalan representatives: like Xavi and Deulofeu for example, who had to be two of the stars of the friendly and whose participation was denied by Al-Sadd and Watford, or like many players of Valladolid, Rayo Vallecano and Huesca, three Primera Division teams who have assured that the prohibition is not for political reasons. In reality, clubs have the obligation to 'suffer' the call-ups of their players only if they come from FIFA teams, and in this case they simply were not. But the list of players called up by Gerard Lopez (former Barça and Valencia midfielder) remained at the highest level: the former blaugrana Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya and Bojan Krkic, Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu, Girona captain Alex Granell but above all Gerard Piqué, free to join the Catalan side after having definitively left La Roja in August 2018. Too bad he failed to rejoin with Xavi, the former partner at the time of the many trophies with Barça's shirt.


About the match, the friendly played at the Estadi Montilivi of Girona (the city of which Puidgemont was mayor) obviously packed and broadcast live on TV3, ended 2-1 for Catalonia, a more than satisfactory result considering that three days before the Vinotinto had managed to inflict a 3-1 defeat on Messi's Argentina. But more than exultation for the two goals scored, the most touching moments were undoubtedly other, full of pure Catalan sentiment: the opening ceremony, when over 12 thousand Catalans (including the president of the Federation, Joan Soteras) sang about the notes of 'El Segadors', the official anthem of the community; the debut of the new self-produced uniform, with the colors of the Senyera; the standing ovation for the Captain Piqué subs; the great debut of the young Riqui Puig, who could represent the future of this team together with Aleix Garcia and Marc Cucurella.


But speaking of the future, what can you expect for the Catalan selection?

Surely, what emerged from the friendly match was not another clear attempt to reaffirm one's willingness to break away, but it was a simple tacit affirmation of being a thing apart. And was Piqué himself who cooled the hot spirits when he heard shouting 'puta Espana' from the stands several times, demanding respect and not tolerating such a situation, calling it intolerable.

If to be interpreted as a new way of seeing the question or simply as a different approach to the situation, it is not yet known: the question linked to the affiliation of the Catalan selection to FIFA is a very long and intricate path, also following the change the requirements necessary to become autonomous: to represent a recognized sovereign state. It happened recently with Gibraltar, which succeeded in gaining independence after a complicated process that lasted almost twenty years and which also regard the TAS, while it is still an absolutely abstract theme for another 'Spanish' minority like the Euskadi or like those of many other minor selections scattered around the world like Sardinia.