Racism row as new rules deny expat kids the right to play football in Spain

EXCLUSIVE: Young expats are routinely being denied the right to play football in racism row

LAST UPDATED: 16 Mar, 2016 @ 20:39


EXPAT children are being denied the opportunity to play football in Spain.

New rules introduced by the Spanish Football Federation mean they are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain a licence (ficha) to play in Spain’s amateur leagues.

While the parents say this is discriminatory, Spain’s FA argues that the regulations have been introduced to combat child trafficking.

SOS Racism has now filed a complaint to UEFA and FIFA, following numerous complaints from disgruntled parents.

One, Reg Winkworth ‘cannot believe’ the discrimination his 16-year-old son Sam has faced since joining Club Deportivo Guadiaro in Sotogrande.

Born in Marbella, Sam has played in Spanish leagues since 2013 when he played for Castellar.

However, he has been unable to get a licence since transferring to Guadiaro in August 2015.

THE TEAM: At Sotogrande

“It is blatant racism, no question about it,” Winkworth, who has lived in Spain for 20 years, told the Olive Press.

“Sam has paid his fees (€60) like everyone else, he trains hard every week and it is heartbreaking for him that he is not allowed to play.”

He added: “At first I thought Sam was being singled out but the more parents I speak to it is clearly endemic.

“Every week we see Cristiano Ronaldo and co wearing their Kick it Out tops on match day, but it is totally hypocritical when this kind of discrimination is taking place at grassroots level.”

Sam’s club told the Olive Press its ‘hands are tied’ by the ‘excessive red tape’ that has been introduced.

A spokesman for SOS Racism described the situation as ‘intolerable’.

“Many children are being discriminated against,” he said. “The regulations put in place exceed the FA’s goal in the extreme.


“It is unfair to put foreign children at a disadvantage compared to nationals.”

The regulations (see box, above) were put in place to stop child trafficking, largely from Africa, to professional and semi-professional academies across Europe.

The Spanish FA refused to comment on ‘FIFA approved regulations’.

Both UEFA and FIFA are yet to respond to SOS Racism or Olive Press questions.


Putting a foot wrong

UNDER FIFA rules brought in to protect children from ‘exploitation and abuse’, a player must be 18 to be transferred internationally.

This law applies to all FIFA-regulated amateur leagues in Spain, and came in after a study found that 15,000 young players leave Africa each year under false pretences of playing in Europe.

However, it should not be enforced if a player’s parents have moved country for non-football related reasons.

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  1. What has this issue got to do with racism? Amazing that people still get this basic issue so wrong. Discrimination is not always a race issue. The ‘red tape’ mentioned is surely the issue here. Perhaps Mr Winkworth can explain why race is an issue and also tell us the race of the people involved. So many laws these days confuse nationality with race.

  2. I have to agree and cannot see where the race issue is. I am in a similar situation with my family, aware of other nationalities other than “British” in the same situation here in Spain. There is a case in the UK newspapers (daily mail being one) regarding a Spanish family who have the same issue in the UK who have kids trying to play football there. It is ridiculous when a young boy wants to play football with his friends and to be told he can’t because he needs international clearance…………………….. Hopefully this issue gets resolved quickly.

  3. It’s racist because, we are not given a clear answer as to why our children are not allowed to play here. You are made to jump through hoops and even when you’ve met all the criteria, including being ‘Residents’ you are still rejected.
    I appreciate that children from Africa may need protection, but we are European!

    • Louise, because an answer is not clear does not mean the reason is racism. The reason may be patriotism or nationalism, but it’s not racism. Quite understand your “jumping through hoops” scenario; we’ve all been there one way or another in Spain.

    • If you want to witness genuine racism as opposed to Spanish pique. Then climb on a bus or enter a public space in contemporary Britain. It’s becoming rancid.

  4. Distinguish between racism and cultural parochialism. We have not experienced racism in Asturias, yet, we are aware that we are not connected to families here and are not village herdsmen and have been reminded of that.
    People wondered why we As such we were at local events and mostly shunned us. A very few said, ‘You aren’t Asturian. Your don’t have the same rights as we do.’ Non-Asturian Spanish report the same.
    This is ‘parochialism’, not racism. We are not disliked because of nationality. We are simply tolerated or over-looked as a kind of non-significant other. It doesn’t enter their minds to include us as they suppose they have nothing in common with us. The parochial attitude springs from sparse experience and education, not hatred, though people like Nigel Lafarage or Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders or Donald Trump can work with publishers like Murdoch to convert cultural naivete into racism and hatred.