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SBD Global/November 11, 2013/International Football
Spanish National Team's Upcoming Equatorial Guinea Friendly Sparks Controversy
Published November 11, 2013
CONTROVERSIAL FRIENDLY: In Madrid, Gómez & Blanco reported the upcoming friendly is "opening a controversy: should football be neutral before dictators?" The RFEF is "arguing that the motive is to support football in a country that is very athletically modest." Ecuatorial Guinea, however, "is not just any country." The country has "been under Obiang's dictatorship for 34 years and his family, which is one of the most corrupt regimes in the world, has crushed dissent and few people receive the billions of euros that come from the country's oil." UEFA President Michel Platini said after groups threatened to boycott the 2012 Euro in Ukraine, "We will never be politically involved in religious or racial politics. We are a non-political association, and our focus is developing football." The RFEF "decides which national teams La Roja plays against based primarily on sporting criterion." Spain "maintains a relationship with Equatorial Guinea, has an embassy there, and is the country's third-biggest commercial client, behind the U.S. and Italy" (EL PAIS, 11/8).