Football Regional Divisions Spain

Referee threatens to send off Basque-speaking players in Spain lower league match

A referee during a Spanish fifth-tier football match threatened to send players off if they spoke Basque during the game.

The incident occurred during a match between Elgoibar and Idiazabal in the semi-autonomous Basque country in Spain.

The region, located in the north of Spain, has a large degree of self-rule, its own language and cultural traditions.

It was reported that the referee had made the comments as he did not speak Basque himself and did not want to miss players using insults.

Despite this claimed reasoning, the incident has gained widespread condemnation from sports figures within the Basque region and beyond.

The region’s culture and sports deputy, Denis Itxaso, told BBC Sport “the attitude of this referee can’t be overlooked”.

“These type of episodes do nothing but create a lack of respect towards the language and heritage,” he added.

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