Israel arrive in Gijón with controversy in the air
There is a hiatus in the domestic game as we look forward to a weekend of international football. These breaks are apparently becoming less and less palatable for the standard fan and this is certainly the case when it comes to the Spanish national team when interest only grows ahead of major tournaments. When a World Cup comes around thousands of fans travel, faces are painted as everyone gets behind "La Roja". However between every World Cup or European Championship there is a qualifying stage which to be honest we feel is won without playing a single game. A number of these games are also against national teams deemed to be inferior and games abound where there is no sense of historical rivalry and this is the case of Friday's opponent Israel.
Lo and behold the Spanish FA in their wisdom have designated the city of Gijón as the venue for the game, a place where the local council supports BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) a pro Palestinian movement which no-one at the federation took into consideration at the time. The decision by the council to support BDS was taken in January 2016 when the local government composed of PSOE, Izquierda Unida and Xixón Sí Puede political parties voted in favour as the Foro Asturias party led my city mayoress Carmen Moriyón abstained from the motion. When the match was presented some three weeks ago with national team coach Lopetegui she swerved any questions regarding BDS.
With match-day approaching a protest march has been announced just ahead of kick-off at El Molinon. I'm pretty sure there will be no major incidents despite the city opposing the Israeli state as it would be counterproductive to host a major game overshadowed by events off the pitch. But already we've seen a mural and posters advertising Friday's protest march all over the city. Blame cannot be totally laid at the door of the Spanish Football Federation and the mayoress certainly needs to explain why her party abstained from the BDS vote try but didn't have the conviction to tell the FA to stage the game in another city.
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