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Galician national football team returns to international action

11 Apr 2024 4 minute read
Galicia fans in the stands for the game against Ecuador in 2006. Photo A torre da derrotA is marked CC BY 2.0 DEED

Luke James

The Galician national football team is to play its first official international match in eight years, fulfilling a long-awaited “dream” with what they believe to be the strongest squad in their history.

Galicia will play Panama, who are 45th in the Fifa rankings and will be warming up for June’s Copa America, at home on May 31. The venue is yet to be confirmed.

It will be the first time Galician fans have had a chance to cheer on their national team since 2016, when 18,000 fans saw them draw 1-1 with Venezuela in the stadium of Deportivo de La Coruña.

Former Liverpool midfielder Iago Aspas and ex Arsenal striker Lucas Pérez are among what the Galician football federation said was “probably the best squad in the history of Galician football.

Although newly-appointed manager Diego Martínez, who most recently managed Greek club Olympiacos, will be without injured Villareal midfielder Denis Suárez.

Complicated

“It is extraordinarily complicated to organise a game at this level,” said Rafael Louzán, the president of the Galician football federation, when he announced the match on Tuesday.

“There are many obstacles you need to overcome but now, after a massive effort on the part of the federation, the circumstances are in place to realise this dream.”

The “Irmandiña”, who are named after a 15th century peasant revolt in Galicia, have only played five friendly matches since 1930.

They played every year between 2005 and 2008, beating Uruguay and Iran as well as drawing with Ecuador and Cameroon.

Between 2009 and 2015, supporters frustrated with the lack of matches organised unofficial games with other countries not recognised by FIFA, such as Kurdistan and Western Sahara.

The Basque and Catalan men’s national teams, which have played more regularly than Galicia, have also had difficulties in organising matches in recent years.

The Basque Country only played their first match since the pandemic last month, drawing 1-1 with Uruguay, while Mali pulled out of a match against Catalonia last June with just a week’s notice and without giving any explanation of their decision.

Not all Galician fans have been sympathetic to the situation faced by their football federation.

It has been criticised in the Galician press for failing to mention when the women’s team will return to action, not having announced a venue and scheduling the match for a Friday.

‘Insufficient’

Via Galega, who have campaigned for Galicia to have its sports teams recognised at international level, said the friendly match against Panama was “insufficient.”

“Vía Galega regrets that we had to wait all this time just to see the announcement of a friendly match without progress towards other objectives like a calendar of regular fixtures or a willingness to achieve international recognition,” the group said in a statement.

The campaigners called on the new Galician government to act on an official petition, which received the support of 6,600 people, calling for Galicia “to obtain official status for our national teams , as already happens, for example, with countries like Scotland or Wales, which do not have their own state.”

The group had the support of the Galician Nationalist Bloc but they narrowly missed out on the seats needed to form a government in February’s elections.

The Partido Popular, the centre-right Spanish nationalists who won a fifth consecutive majority, are unlikely to support the proposal.


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Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

Well I was supportive of the aims as described in this article until reading the quote from the petition!

Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Davies

??? The underlying question here is: what happens when you have a country or region that is not recognised as a State in international law? If you are a State (member of UN etc) you will be allowed a ‘national’ football team. Wales got lucky in 1878. Wales did exactly what Galicia is doing now. And later was allowed a ‘national’ football team even though we are not a State (member of UN etc). By 1905 we had the FAW, WRU and University of Wales etc. Having these was a big boost and enough to get us on track to… Read more »

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
1 month ago

Thank you for that explanation, you have furthered my knowledge and understanding.

I rescind my previous statement and instead would wish good luck to Galicia.

Geraint
Geraint
1 month ago

We need a national cricket team like Scotland .

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

FIFAs membership criteria is that you have a be a sovereign state to be eligible. Non- Sovereign countries may apply for membership but only if the parent nation agrees. Denmark allows Faeroe Islands, Greenland. USA allows Puerto Rico, Hong Kong by China etc etc. However these exceptions are very rare. Unfortunately Spain is never going to allow Galicia, Basque or Catalonia FIFA membership because it would set a precedent within Spain. Same with most other countries. The FAW, SFA, English FA however predate FIFA and are firmly well established. It would be suicidal if London stripped the Home Nations of… Read more »

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