Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 15th 2013 Contents A53
Friday, November 15, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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MADRID---Spain s national team will
travel to Equatorial Guinea for a
friendly game, and the country s foot-
ball federation won t say why.
The decision to play in the former
Spanish colony has drawn the ire of
the country s opposition in exile group
in Madrid, and raised questions about
what benefit the World Cup champi-
ons expect to get from playing a team
ranked 119th in the world.
The federation said it will not be
paid any extra fees to play. When
directly asked why the game is being
played, federation president Angel
Maria Villar refused to answer.
"I won t answer this question," Villar
said yesterday. "Ask anything else, but
I won t respond to this one."
Spanish players have reportedly
refused to pose for photographs with
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema,
who is Africa s longest serving strong-
man and accused of human rights vio-
lations and corruption.
Spain will become the first nation
from outside Africa to play in Malabo
since Obiang took power in 1979.
Equatorial Guinea is coached by former
Spain international Andoni Goikoetx-
ea.More than 14,000 people have
joined the opposition group in calling
for the match to be halted by signing
a petition on change.org.
"The adequate decision for everyone,
in our opinion, would be that the game
is not celebrated," the group said
Thursday in a statement. "If not, Spain
will pay a hefty bill for falling into this
trap, and not just from an economic
Amnesty International, EG Justice
and Human Rights Watch are among
those who have criticised Obiang s
government over issues such as polit-
ically motivated arrests and lack of
freedom of speech. Obiang seized
power in a coup.
Spain striker Fernando Llorente was
asked his opinion of the situation, but
team spokeswoman Paloma Antoranz
interjected and said the players would
not answer questions on the topic.
Llorente eventually said: "I only
want to talk about sport, everything
football player who
claimed to be black-
mailed by former inter-
national Sanel Kuljic
admitted yesterday that
he tried to persuade four
teammates at a first-divi-
sion club to fix games last
Groedig director Chris-
tian Haas said the
attempts by player
Dominique Taboga failed
and no match involving
the club has been manip-
"Dominique Taboga has
confirmed he talked about
it with four players," Haas
said. "That s why we were
forced into terminating his
contract. All players con-
firmed to me that they
haven t been manipulating
in any way. I am proud of
Haas said Groedig and
Taboga parted ways by
mutual consent after the
defender s confession on
Thursday, a day after
Taboga told state prose-
cutors in Salzburg that
Kuljic had talked him into
fixing matches to settle a
Prosecutors said Kuljic
was arrested on Tuesday
after Taboga filed charges,
claiming he was forced to
pay Kuljic nearly €30,000
(TT$259,000) and was
threatened by the former
Austria international after
refusing to prevent
Groedig from winning
"The team is in a
shock," Haas said.
"Dominique Taboga was
definitely one of our lead-
ing players. This is not an
easy situation for us."
Prosecutors said Kuljic
has denied the alleged
attempt at match-fixing,
adding that Taboga owed
him money from the time
they both played at
Kapfenberg in the first half
of 2012. Prosecutors were
investigating the cause and
extent of Taboga s debt.
A retired striker who
played 20 matches for
Austria from 2005-07,
Kuljic was arrested in a
parking lot in Anif near
Salzburg while waiting for
Taboga, expecting the
Groedig defender to hand
over €3,000 ($26,000).
Taboga had warned the
police the evening before.
The Austrian league
said it "completely con-
demns this attempt of fix-
else I don t want to talk about it."
Marc Bartra, who has been called
up for the first time and has yet to
play a game for Spain, and Raul Albiol
also avoided talking about the situation
"We try to stay out of all this and
to focus on the football. The country,
its government, that is something
apart," Albiol said. "We re here to play
a friendly and nothing more."
Spain defender Sergio Ramos was
critical of another extended travel plan
that will see the team return to South
Africa for a friendly on Tuesday, its
first trip to the country since it won
the World Cup there in 2010.
"It s clear that these long trips are
not enjoyable for anybody," Ramos
said. "We can try new tactics heading
into the World Cup which is always
Spain's Juan Mata, centre laughs with various team mates during a training
session in Madrid, Spain, yesterday. Spain will play Equatorial Guinea in Malabo
in a friendly soccer match tomorrow. AP PHOTO
Spain's match against Eq
Guinea raises eyebrows
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