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WC qualifiers: Spain beat Kosovo, national broadcaster downgrades visitors

The game in Seville was played in accordance to UEFA etiquette, with Kosovo’s national anthem played before the match. But on television, Spain’s national broadcaster disregarded normal protocol by not mentioning Kosovo as a country and using lowercase letters for “kos” in its graphics.

Spain cruised past Kosovo 3-1 on Wednesday in a World Cup qualifier that attracted more attention off the field because of Spain’s non-recognition of the visiting country.

The game in Seville was played in accordance to UEFA etiquette, with Kosovo’s national anthem played before the match. But on television, Spain’s national broadcaster disregarded normal protocol by not mentioning Kosovo as a country and using lowercase letters for “kos” in its graphics.

Spain does not recognize Kosovo’s 2008 independence from Serbia.

Ahead of the game, the Spanish federation had already upset Kosovo officials by referring to the country as a “territory.” The Kosovo federation warned it wouldn’t play the match unless Spain pledged to respect the Balkan country’s sovereignty.

But commentators on TV referred to the opponents as the “team from the Kosovo federation,” and used phrases like “players from the federation of Kosovo.”

It used “ESP” in uppercase letters for the hosts’ on-screen graphic in Spanish — as it had for both countries in previous qualifying games — but kept lowercase “kos” at all times for the visitors.

The TVE public network did not immediately answer a request for comment on why is used lowercase letters for Kosovo in its graphic. Spanish media said that the signal sent internationally did show “KOS” in uppercases.

There was also a lot of talk about a player who was on the field for only a few minutes, as Spain captain Sergio Ramos again was left out of the starting lineup and came off the bench only near the end. It was still enough to give him 180 international appearances, putting him four behind the record held by former Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan for the most caps in men’s soccer.

Dani Olmo opened the scoring for Spain in the 34th minute and Ferran Torres added to the lead in the 36th before Kosovo pulled one back through Besar Halimi’s long-range shot in the 70th after Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón lost possession while trying to play the ball far outside his area.

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