Catalan-born players such as Gerard Pique to Cesc Fabregas are some of the top names whose future with the Spanish national team could be affected as the Catalan region of Spain call for referendum.
Catalan-born players such as Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Xavi played key roles as Spain became the world’s dominant footballing force with victories at the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
And after Sunday’s Catalonia independence referendum – where voters were asked whether they wish Catalonia to become an independent republic from Spain – the international futures of players from the region could be cast into the spotlight.
Catalonia already boast a representative side, which has been playing matches for over a century but is not a member of either FIFA or UEFA
Kiko Casilla (Real Madrid, one Spain cap)
Casilla is a Spanish professional footballer who started his playing career at Real Madrid, but only represented the reserve teams in his beginnings. He went on to appear in 126 competitive games for Espanyol over the course of six La Liga seasons, before returning to his previous club in 2015.
Born in Alcover, Tarragona, Catalonia, Casilla was on 29 August 2014 named in Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque’s 23-man squad for matches against France and Macedonia in September, as third-choice behind Iker Casillas and David de Gea. He only made his debut, however, on 18 November, replacing the former for the last 14 minutes of a friendly with Germany in Vigo and was beaten by Toni Kroos for the game’s only goal.
Gerard Pique (Barcelona, 91 caps and five goals for Spain)
Pique notably said he would have no qualms in turning his back on the Spanish national side if the country’s governing football body judged the defender to be a “problem” in light of his pro-Catalonia independence views.
In the wake of Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Las Palmas, which was played behind closed doors after the request for it to be postponed amid violent disturbances in Barcelona was rejected, said: “If the Spain manager or the Spanish FA think I’m a problem then I have no problem in stepping aside and leaving the team.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal, three caps and no goals for Spain)
Bellerín played internationally for Spain from under-16 to under-21 levels. He made his senior debut for Spain in 2016 and was chosen after such for the European Championship of that year.
Bellerín who started his club football career in the youth teams of FC Barcelona before moving to Arsenal in the summer of 2011 was in Barcelona, Catalonia.
Jordi Alba (Barcelona, 55 caps and six goals for Spain)
Alba started his career at Barcelona, but was released for being deemed too small. After joining neighbouring Cornellà he finished his development at Valencia, rising to prominence in La Liga with the club and in 2012, he returned to Barcelona.
The left-back who is a native of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia represented Spain at the 2014 World Cup and two European Championships, having first appeared for the team in 2011. Alba won the Euro 2012 tournament.
Sergio Busquets (Barcelona, 99 caps and two goals for Spain)
Busquets arrived in Barcelona’s first team in July 2008, and eventually made a name for himself in a relatively short period of time.
The Sabadell, Barcelona, Catalonia born defensive midfielder reached the Spain national team less than one year after making his senior club debut where he helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and the Euro 2012 tournaments. He also represented the nation at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea, 110 caps and 15 goals for Spain)
Fàbregas made his debut for the Spanish national team in March 2006, representing his country in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Euro 2008, 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012, 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.
Born in Arenys de Mar, Barcelona, Catalonia, Fabregas was a key figure in Spain’s European Championship victories in 2008 and 2012 and their 2010 World Cup triumph. The former Arsenal skipper on October 12, 2015 earned his 100th cap for Spain.
Sergi Roberto (Barcelona, three caps and one goal for Spain)
Born in Reus, Tarragona, Catalonia, Roberto began playing football with local UE Barri Santes Creus at the age of 8 arriving in FC Barcelona’s youth academy six years later from neighbours Gimnàstic de Tarragona.
He received his first call up to the senior squad in March 2016, for friendlies against Romania and Italy. His debut took place in the former match on the 27th, as he started in a 0–0 draw in Cluj-Napoca.
Sergio Garcia (Espanyol, two caps and no goals for Spain)
After starting out at Barcelona, Garcia went on to represent mainly Zaragoza and Espanyol, serving as captain of the latter. Over the course of 12 seasons, he amassed La Liga totals of 298 games and 71 goals. García appeared for Spain at Euro 2008, winning the tournament.