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Spain's regional football fad is in decline


Festive season action

A couple of days ago the Catalunya regional team was in action and later tonight, it will be the Basque Country's turn to play - both matches, against Tunisia. And sandwiched between those friendlies will be the Champions For Life charity game, in which the Andalucian regional side will take on a combined XI of players from all 20 LaLiga clubs. The days of when Spain's autonomous communities had teams which were followed with passion - a trend born in Catalunya and the Basque Country and imitated in other regions, are now a thing of the past. Catalunya elected Girona's Montilivi stadium for their game but failed to fill it. There were a lot of Catalan players missing - and not just the ones who have other commitments in the Premier League. From Barça, just Sergi Roberto and Masip took part and that was a disappointment to put it mildly and hardly compensated by the always welcome presence of the great Xavi Hernández.

Catalunya and Tunisia in action in Girona on Wednesday
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Catalunya and Tunisia in action in Girona on WednesdayCARLES MELÉNDEZ © 2016DIARIO AS

The winter friendlies featuring Basque and Catalan teams always had a certain air of hope, which I always felt was a little delusionary; they were viewed as the foundation stone for becoming official, recognized teams in their own right. In some quarters it was seen as being fashionable and at times, I suppose it was a way of highlighting the singularity of the Basque and Catalan regions. Today, the Basques and Catalans see that objective as far off as it was back then and the initial enthusiasm has died down. Such issues, at least in Catalunya's case, are now confined to the walls of Parlament, where the region's affairs are discussed with great zeal. While calm has returned to the Basque Country; today they would have quite a formidable team, but there would be too much paperwork involved to see it ever happening.

Barcelona celebrate winning LaLiga Promises tournament
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Barcelona celebrate winning LaLiga Promises tournamentJJuan Garcia-CruzDIARIO AS

The kids are alright

So the series of regional friendlies at least have kept us entertained while we are waiting for  LaLiga to resume. And let's not forget the children's 7-a-side tournament, Fútbol 7 - the brainchild of Carmelo Zubiaur which José Ramón De la Morena has faithfully looked after over the past few years. In winter, we have the international version and the contrast between our teams and those from elsewhere gives us some optimism, because the difference is quite noticeable. So we have been able to enjoy three days of intensive football, plenty of eye-catching entertainment and brilliant individual skills to behold. And it was Barça who lifted the Cup - a Barça who continue to churn out new talent in their well respected Masía academy.