Keeper Iker Casillas has sparked a storm in Spain by justifying the £500,000 bonus on offer for winning the World Cup while the country is in recession.
The Spanish economy has felt the full force of the recession with unemployment running at 20% with the construction industry in ruins.
Despite that backdrop Real Madrid and Barcelona are the biggest spenders in the game with the rewards on offer to the national team similarly lucrative.
Spain’s bonus to win the World Cup is reportedly the largest on offer amongst the competing nations which hasn’t gone down well at home.
Support for the national team is patchy throughout the country with little interest in the team from a large number of Basque and Catalan fans.
Getting the best out of the talents available from Barcelona and Real Madrid has proved too much for generations of Spanish managers until the 2008 European Championship triumph.
The competing factions and lack of national passion has contrasted sharply with the successes enjoyed by Italy and Germany over the last 40 years.
Celtic’s Marc Cossas admitted yesterday: “I’m Catalan but Catalonia isn’t an official national team.
“We’ve been trying for a few years now to have a national team so we can play in an official competition but until that happens I can still play for Spain.
“I support Spain because I have friends playing for them and I want to see the likes of Xavi, Puyol and Pique win the World Cup.
“But it’s a different feeling. When Spain are playing I want them to win but if they don’t then I’m not going to cry because it’s different.”
Crosas’ feelings are typical of many ‘Spaniards’ who’ll be less than impressed by Casillas’ defence of the team’s World Cup bonus.
“This issue always comes up,” the keeper said referring to the bonus row. “You can comment and talk, especially at this time when everyone is suffering.
“And I include myself in that because I have family and friends and cousins and they are also hurting because of the crisis. Everyone sees it one way, as they want, but you shouldn’t mix one thing up with the other.
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta backed those comments adding: “ I think Iker answered very well. We don’t like non-soccer issues much but there you go.
“Everyone has their point of view and some think it’s good and some think it’s bad. It’s not something we can defend much, everyone is free to give an opinion.
Reports from Spain suggest that England are second in the bonus league with a payment of £390,000 available to Fabio Capello’s squad with the Brazilian’s on a bonus of ‘only’ £150,000 per man for lifting the trophy.
Sporting Gijon hitman Nacho Novo has been left out of Vicente Del Bosque’s 23 man squad for South Africa.
Follow Video Celts on Twitter