Catalonia's official football squad is the Catalan national football team (Catalan: Seleccio de futbol de Catalunya). The Catalan Football Federation, which was created in 1900, organizes it. Nigeria, Brazil, and Argentina are among the teams they have faced. They have never beaten any of them, but they have drawn with both Argentina and Brazil.
They have also played against several other countries including Spain, France, England, Uruguay, and Colombia. They have only lost to Spain five times in 105 matches. Their most recent defeat came in the 2013 UEFA Champions League group stage match away from home when Barcelona defeated them 1-0.
They did however beat Japan 5-4 on aggregate in the 1989 Asian Cup Winners' Cup. That was the first time that Japan had been knocked out in the group stages of a major tournament.
The current coach is Eusebio Sacristán who has led the team to two victories so far this season in the Spanish league championship. His contract will be up at the end of the season. If his team wins their last three games then he will have achieved a successful campaign.
Before reaching an agreement with Spain, every year a Catalan team would play in the FIFA World Cup. In fact, they have taken part in all but one edition of the competition.
The squad has gone by several names, including Seleccio Catalana, Seleccio de Barcelona, and Catalan XI. It has never won a major international title but has been to the final of the UEFA European Championship on three occasions (2000, 2004, 2012).
Catalonia has long been known for its passion for soccer. An estimated 95 percent of people in the region support a club, with Barcelona being the most popular one. The foundation of the Catalan national team is attributed to the fact that many players from Catalonia have been able to represent Europe without any problems because they were not considered foreign players.
This policy changed in 1908 when Spain's prime minister at the time, José María Gil Robles, introduced a rule prohibiting players from representing more than one country on the field at a time. Only native Spaniards were allowed to do so, even if they were from other regions of the country. To protest against this decision, some groups of players formed unions and clubs where they could play under their own flags. One of these teams was FC Barcelona, which became one of the most successful in history. Today, there are nearly half a million people in Catalonia who live and breathe soccer. This number increases every year as more and more locals join the game.
Catalan football is now governed by the Catalan Football Federation and the RFEF, and Catalan teams play in La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Copa Catalunya, and a number of European events. The first official match played by a Catalan team took place on 8 October 1893, when FC Barcelona defeated British Army team Shrewsbury Town 4-1 at the Camp de la Independencia in Barcelona.
During the Spanish Civil War, football was banned in Republican Spain. When democracy was restored in 1975, an independent Catalonia became a member of FIFA and UEFA. However, its membership was not recognized by the other members, so it could only participate in regional competitions such as the Copa Catalunya and the UEFA Regions' Cup.
In 1992, the Congress of Deputies approved a law that allowed for clubs to be founded by immigrants in Catalonia if there were no local players available. This law has since been repeated in each legislative period, most recently in 2011. Today, football is one of the most popular sports in Catalonia, with Barça being the most famous club. The other major team is RCD Espanyol from Barcelona.
Football is known as "el ballon" in Catalan, which means "the balloon".
Football in the Spanish national team/sport is called fútbol. It is an individual game that involves kicking a ball with feet and shins into a net using teams of 11 players. The two teams are divided up according to gender: one captain, one vice-captain for each side; and eight players per team. The match consists of 90 minutes of play with an additional 30 minutes of extra time if needed. If scores are still level after extra time has finished then a penalty shoot-out will be used to determine a winner.
Soccer is most popular in Europe and North America, but it is also widely played in South America and Africa. Women's football is also popular in many countries including Spain where it is called futbol. There are several differences between men's and women's football including number of players on the field at a time, size of the pitch, and whether there is a goal at each end of the field.
In Spain, football is called fútbol. Men's football is called segunda división while women's football is called tercera división.