miércoles, 1 de diciembre de 2010

The winners of the 2010 World Cup, Catalunya?

Gibraltar: not dressed well enough for FIFA
(Photo © DM Parody (http://dotcom.gi/photos))

By Gramajo (from Gibraltar)
You might be wondering what on earth the title above is all about. However, if UEFA and FIFA had not let politics blur their vision (as especially FIFA claim they do not allow to happen within their association countries), then this title might arguably have been commonplace.

In late 2006, it was agreed that the British territory of Gibraltar were to be given provisional status into UEFA. The Spanish government at the time, who thought (and still do) that they have a right of ownership over Gibraltar, despite it being British for over 300 years, decided that this was not acceptable, as they feared that if Gibraltar got membership, it may encourage some of the bigger footballing regions in Spain (like Catalunya and País Vasco), would take heart from Gibraltar's success, and do the same, therefore savaging the national team of Spain if important players, especially those who weren't capped at the time, like Victor Valdes, chose to represent their regions who had gained UEFA, or FIFA status. Therefore, through the RFEF, they sent out a threat to UEFA and FIFA, in which if Gibraltar's application was accepted, they would pull all their teams and nation out of competitions indefinitely, in protest.

Montenegro in, Gibraltar out

Obviously UEFA, and the majority of its participating nations, knew that they valued Spain over the small territory of Gibraltar, occupied by just over 27,000 people, therefore when it went to vote, Gibraltar ended up losing their appeal, receiving just 3 votes from the 52 member nations (from England, Scotland and Northern Ireland) at the time (Montenegro were also up for appeal at this time, and got into UEFA, raising the numbers afterwards to the current 53 nations). Conveniently, UEFA and FIFA also decided to change their membership rules, to only allow countries who are members of the United Nations to be accepted, despite several of its current nations not meeting the rule, yet being allowed to stay regardless.

Said nations who are in FIFA, but not the
United Nations, include Puerto Rico, Bermuda, the Faroe Islands, Guam and Hong Kong. All of these were territories, in the same situation arguably as the likes of Gibraltar and Greenland, who were in FIFA before the rule was introduced, but nothing was done about them. Even England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are not members of the UN by themselves, although they are as the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, represented as one, despite on the footballing field being four completely separate nations. How some of the territories could get into FIFA beforehand, but now territories on the same level as them can not, is clearly not right. In total, if the UEFA and FIFA ruling had come into force and kicked out these nations, there would be only 184 nations in FIFA (likely 185, as it would've forced the four members of the United Kingdom to merge as one, not to their choice, but something FIFA would like to happen).

This arguably blatant allowing of politics to influence its decision has effectively killed the hopes of several territories of even dreaming of getting into one of the federations. Not a good showing, considering FIFA's 'fair play' policy, usually being disregarded for financial reasons.
However, if the situation had been different, and Catalunya had subsequently got into FIFA, then they could have had a decent team on their hands, including the likes of Xavi Hernández, Cesc Fábregas, Joan Capdevila, Bojan Krkic and Gerard Piqué. They could have done some damage, and although perhaps winning the World Cup would've been a bit too much for such a side, they may certainly have gotten far. They could have beaten England at least.

Nevertheless, we shall never know what may have happened, and for many territories around the world, they'll likely never get the dream of competing even in World Cup qualifiers. All over a threat from Spain, through the RFEF in 2006.

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