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Scots reject Catalonia contest

The Scottish Football Association has turned down an approach to play an unofficial international against Catalonia at the end of this month, according to the Spanish region's FA.

Gerard Pique represented Catalonia in their match against Nigeria last January
Gerard Pique represented Catalonia in their match against Nigeria last January

Unlike Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have separate national teams despite not being independent countries, Catalonia - and other Spanish regional sides - only play friendly matches as "national" teams while Spain has its winter break. It may be that, in light of the forthcoming referendum on independence in Scotland, Catalonia is seeking to strengthen its case for greater autonomy from Spain by playing a fixture against one of the UK sides.

Catalonia, along with the Basque Country, have made approaches to Scotland over recent years to provide the opposition in one of their festive season friendlies but Andreu Subies, president of the Catalonia FA, said they had been rejected again this year. "Scotland have said they will not play against nations who are unrecognised," he said. "Scotland will probably never play against Catalonia."

The SFA declined to comment but it is understood that the timing of the games, and the risk to ranking points, count against the prospect of a game more than the political status of the Spanish region.

Catalonia, who have played the likes of Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria in the past, were managed by Johan Cruyff until he retired this year, to be replaced by the former Barcelona player Gerard Lopez, after Tito Vilanova, the Barcelona coach last season, turned down the role because of ill health. They will call on the likes of Barcelona superstars Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Xavi for their fixture against Cape Verde Islands on December 30 in Barcelona's Olympic Stadium.

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