Any right minded person who read The Guardian report on the working and living Spain9conditions for the construction workers building the stadiums and other infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup, in Qatar, cannot be anything else but appalled. It is estimated that up to one million extra construction workers will stream into Qatar from countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and India and  its claimed a staggering 4,000 migrant workers could be killed getting the Gulf state ready to host the four-week tournament. What’s that got to do with Spain? I hear you ask, well this.

You’ve probably noticed that FC Barcelona’s football shirt is sponsored by Qatar Airlines, the 50% state owned company. The deal is worth £25m per year to the Catalan giants and has broken a 113 year tradition of having no corporate sponsors on their shirts. Apart from the WC carry on, Qatar authoritarian’s regime, as you probably know, has a bit of a shady record on human rights and I can’t help but see the irony of that country’s name emblazoned across such an iconic football shirt. The Catalans for years suffered under the Franco dictatorship and the wounds of that suffering are still raw to this day. Barcelona FC is/was the badge of Catalan identity and pride in a region that was banned from speaking its own language and flying its own flag. Sir Bobby Robson is once quoted as saying “Catalonia is a country and FC Barcelona is their army” and that sentiment is or was very true. The shirt and its colours were sacred to the thousands of “Cules” that packed the Nou Camp week in week out and it made a huge political Spain10statement to the rest of Spain. BUT now the current FCB regime have whored the shirt out to the highest bidder and it now has the name of a country emblazoned across the front of it whose government make Franco look like Mary Poppins (sorry Alan)…….and we thought we had it bad with W*n*a. An aside to this is that the commercial, under the title “The Team that unites the world” (pass me the sick bucket), announcing the deal has actually become the most watched video on FCB’s you-tube channel  ……even Gary Lineker is in it FFS!

Anyone who has been reading this drivel for a while will know that I had quite a bit of admiration for the Catalan club, I can safely say that any bit of respect that I had left for them has sadly died. For me they no longer uphold the values that so many people respected them for, quite sad really.

The other half of El Clasico, Real Madrid, who I’ve never liked and who incidentally have Spain11Dubai’s, that other lovable Gulf country, state owned airline on their shirt, had a bad weekend. They lost the Madrid derby at home 0-1 to Atleti. Simeone’s team is always well organised and motivated and currently are bucking the trend and sitting joint top of the pile with FCB, I’d love them to gatecrash the big two’s party and win the league. Before anyone points it out, I know that gas rich state Azerbaijan sponsor Atleti and I know their human rights record isn’t too clever either. There was also an Against Modern Football story attached to this game, it was reported that only 17 Atleti fans officially went to the game, in protest to the €70 ticket price that they were being asked to pay in the away end. Good on them I reckon and even though they missed probably one of the best occasions in their clubs recent history they have made a rightful stand against football’s spiralling greed. The only language the people currently running football understand is money, take the money away and they might just start to listen. Simeone even got involved by saying that he thought that the tickets were too expensive, I already liked him but after that statement he has gone up 100 fold in my estimations.

Watching the local scene around here has become exciting too. Last week I was at CAP Spain12Ciudad de Murcia to watch them come from two behind and mount a great second half comeback to win 3-2, scoring the winner in the last minute.

After the game the game some of their fans took part in a demonstration, in the centre of Murcia City, against the murder, by neo-Nazis, of 34-year-old Pavlos Fysas.  Fysas was a Greek antifascist hip-hop artist that went under the name Killah P; he was murdered whilst watching a football match in a café in Athens.

Yesterday (Sunday) CAP Ciudad de Murcia played my home town Caravaca. As most of Spain13you know I follow both clubs and the day started out well as I showed the Directiva of Ciudad around the town. Later on we went for lunch and the atmosphere was very good, until we arrived at the ground. Apparently Ciudad had negotiated a deal for their travelling fans, many of whom are on the dole or students. The deal was supposedly a €2 reduction on the €5   ticket price; most clubs in this category charge €3 for entry. You may be reading this and thinking only €2 but in my reckoning, maths never my strong point, that’s about 66% more than other clubs. When we arrived at the ground the Caravaca officials, most of whom I know, said that no deal had been agreed. This caused a big uproar, no violence I must add, and the Ciudad fans refused to enter the ground. They watched the game from a nearby hill and I joined them. This caused a huge compromise for me as all of the rest of my family were in the ground as my daughter’s boyfriend plays for Caravaca.  However I’m a shareholder for Ciudad and strongly oppose what’s happening in football today, regarding ticket prices and other things. The whole situation left a sour taste in the mouth in what had started out to be a good day and the sad thing is that most of the Caravaca people at the game didn’t really understand what the protest was about. Anyway Ciudad’s fans supported the team from outside the ground and at one point were waving €5 notes and singing we are fans not millionaires, the whole thing was a bit nuts (or Spanish) to be honest. The game ended 2-1 to Caravaca and they continue their 100% start to the season, my Daughters boyfriend, Pedro, came on as a sub only to get injured and to come off again, a bit of a miserable day all round.

Just a couple of things before I finish, I’m still on Xisco watch and he scored twice at the weekend as his team ,Cordoba, won 2-0, they sit second top of La Segunda.

Even though I’m not a fan of international football I’m planning to go and see Spain take on Georgia, in October, in a WC qualifier in Albacete, which is about an hour away. Talking about La Roja there is an event taking place at the Tyneside Cinema in December

Journalist Graham Hunter will be discussing his new book, The Inside Story of La Roja’s Historic Treble. Graham, along with Sid Lowe, is one of the most respected journalists on Spanish football and the only British journalist who had access to Span’s World Cup winning dressing room in 2010. If you’ve read his other book, on FC Barcelona, then you know what I’m talking about regarding his writing. Get along to the event if you can, Graham is good a good presenter with canny craic.

That’s all for now, I’m off for a lie down!