Spain denies Kosovo to the point of exhaustion
RTVE broadcasters avoid naming the Balkan country and the channel even writes the abbreviation of its name in small letters
BarcelonaAccording to Televisión Española (RTVE), Spain was not playing against Kosovo, but more specifically against the "Football Federation of Kosovo" or "the territory of Kosovo". Anything to avoid giving the Balkan state a normal name and, directly or indirectly, recognising its independence. Politics was the main protagonist of a match that the Spanish team played at the Cartuja stadium, a qualifier for the World Cup in Qatar, and which they ended up winning 3-1.
Expectations were high in the run-up to the match to find out how Spain would handle the anthem ceremony and whether they would give the Kosovo flag the same treatment as the other teams they play against in official matches. Reluctantly, and due to threats of sanctions from UEFA and FIFA, the Spanish government had already announced that it would avoid getting into trouble and would respect the pre-match protocol. But it remained to be seen how RTVE would act, as there was speculation that it would cut the broadcast at that very moment. This had been widely criticised in Kosovo, which had lobbied to prevent it. In the end, the international insistence had an effect and it was possible to see -at least on La 1, the channel that broadcast the match- the moment of the anthems. The announcers made no mention of it, as if it were part of the atmosphere and not an official act. Likewise, they didn't say anything when the Spanish anthem was played, and then they switched to advertising to reconnect at the start of the match.
However, the Spanish public television, responding to the demands of the government, tried to deny the independence of Kosovo during the match. And it did it, for example, in the scoreboard: while the abbreviation of Spain was written in capital letters, the abbreviation of the Balkan state was written in lower case (ESP-kos). An image that only appeared on Spanish territory, as the international signal showed the names of the two teams on equal terms. Moreover, during the match, the announcers avoided mentioning the rival of la Roja's as much as possible. Or, if they did, they did not refer to it as a sovereign country but as "a territory" or as a team of the Kosovar "federation". These decisions drew all kinds of criticism and mockery on social networks.
The match ended in a Spanish victory, thanks to goals from Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres in the first half. Besar Halimi pulled one back for Kosovo at the break, capitalising on a mistake by goalkeeper Unai Simon. But the roja's Gerard Moreno scored the decisive goal. The blaugranas Jordi Alba, Pedri and Sergio Busquets were in the starting line-up, although the latter two were substituted in the second half.