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Super Eagles, Atletico Madrid’s clash thrills spanish Ambassador to Nigeria


Marcelino Cabanas Ansorena

The Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Marcelino Cabanas Ansorena, was among the spectators at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, when LaLiga giants, Atletico Madrid, defeated Super Eagles B Team 3-2 in an international friendly match on Tuesday. At the end of the encounter, the Ambassador said that the coming of the UEFA Europa League champions to Nigeria holds a great relationship between the two countries. He also spoke on other issues.

As a representative of Spain in Nigeria, what does the coming of Atletico Madrid to Nigeria to play a match means to you?
It is a very important thing for Spain and bilateral relations with Nigeria. It is an incredibly exciting match for us because Atletico Madrid is one of the biggest clubs in LaLiga Santander, and they’ve just won the Europa League, while the Super Eagles have qualified for the World Cup in Russia.
On interest generated by the match

People in Nigeria are so passionate about football, particularly the LaLiga. For such a huge club to arrange a visit here is effectively a diplomatic tool to bring the countries closer together. It’s important for both sporting and sentimental reasons, with the fact that Fernando Torres, an internationally renowned superstar, is saying goodbye to Atletico here in Uyo makes it even more special.

Nigeria has not received enough top-rated teams in the past. How important is Atletico’s visit?
It is not commonplace for such high-profile teams to come to this country. It has been over 10 years since the last comparable visit, but it certainly didn’t spark as much interest as Atletico coming over on this occasion has. It is the first time that a LaLiga side have come to Nigeria, which is very helpful in terms of gaining insight into top-level football and the fact that it was a Spanish club made it even more beneficial to the country.

How does football help a country’s image and the Spain Brand (Marca España)? Can we say that it is a unifying force?
Yes, of course it is. Football is international because it has no borders and it brings nations together. There is so much passion for football in Nigeria. People live and breathe the beautiful game here. Many visitors are surprised when they come here by the fact that all schools have football pitches. The country follows the Spanish league closely, and you see so many fans of all ages wearing kits of various LaLiga sides whenever you are out there.

As a Spanish representative in Nigeria, you must be proud of how passionate Nigerians are about the LaLiga.
Yes, I am proud that they associate with Spanish football, which has top-level, quality and positive values that sporting excellence is synonymous with. The Spain Brand certainly benefits from that image. You can see that in Nigerian newspapers on a daily basis. Not a single day goes by without news about Spanish teams’ success.

What are relations like between Spain and Nigeria?
Relations between the two countries are excellent. Nigeria is certainly a crucial ally for us, as an African giant with a booming economy, where more and more Spanish businesses and entrepreneurs are looking to invest. By the same token, Nigeria shows political and cultural interest in our country, which is, at least in part, driven by our sporting scene.

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