England’s comeback thrashing of Montenegro, Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury or France’s dismissal of Iceland would have been most people’s headlines from Monday’s international football fixtures. But there was one game you probably didn’t hear about. It saw politics meet football as the Spanish region of Catalonia played their first fixture for more than two years. They beat Venezuela — not shying away from the news headlines themselves — 2-1 in front of 12,671 in Girona. But, unlike England et al, it was nothing to do with trying to qualify for the European football championships next summer. Catalonia, because they are not recognised by UEFA, are not invited to take place in next summer’s football extravaganza. Ditto for FIFA. So the game against the team from South America — fresh from beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina last week — was only a friendly. Nevertheless, it didn’t have any trouble attracting high-profile players. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, a World Cup winner who retired from playing for Spain last year, turned out for Catalonia. He was reported to have tried to silence fans who were shouting against Spain during the match. “Respect, above all, but on all sides. In Catalonia we have to preach by… Read full this story
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