Following reports in which the Spanish hockey federation is reported to have highlighted the Consejo Superior de Deportes’ warning that Spanish teams are not to play against Gibraltar teams, or select Gibraltarian players Core understands that local players have been sought out to play for Spanish clubs.
At least two male players are reported to be playing for hockey clubs up the costa del sol with one female player having been approached to play in Spain.
Core also understands a former national player already plays in the Liga de Andalucia. His club having been aware of the warnings and having intervened in order to register the player in question. Whilst the reports suggest that there will be sanctions for clubs playing Gibraltarian players or participating in matches with Gibraltar sides, since the warnings were re-issued in November, which is when Core understands the warnings were first given, Spanish sides have ignored the warnings and have played Registered players from Gibraltar, trained in Gibraltar and participated in matches against Gibraltar sides at youth level.
The latest warnings were issued just before the Spanish general elections and are seen locally as politically oriented policies affecting all sports, not just hockey, with the Consejo Superior de Deportes having issued this policy to all sports clubs and organisations as far back as 2012.Similar policies also existed as far back as 1999 when Athletes were stopped from flying the Gibraltar flag or registering with Spanish teams, which led to condemnation from across the athletics fraternity.
The Consejo Superior de Deportes making mention in their website the policies when commenting on Spain’s campaign to stop the Gibraltar Rugby Association from becoming a full member of the European Rugby Association (FIRA-AER) back in 2013.
Spain’s political stance against Gibraltar sportsmen and women had been met by resistance by various sporting bodies with Gibraltar teams and officials still enjoying their participation in some events including friendly matches between regional teams, and lately the increased business in the transfer market which has seen players from Spain joining local teams in football and clubs training and playing friendlies in Spain in preparation for their season.