When thinking about discrimination against Juan Mata, the first thought on everyone’s mind is Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese coach was the first to prove that it’s not impossible to dislike handsome blog-writer/professional footballer Mata by making him an outcast at Chelsea, to the dismay of Blues fans.
Relations between the two have improved at Manchester United, however, and Mata has revealed a more general discrimination that impacts upon him; the fact that he is a Spaniard playing in the Premier League.
In an interview with MARCA, the 28-year-old has opened up about what he feels is a tendency for players who leave the Iberian Peninsula to be overlooked in their homeland.
When you don’t play in Spain you’re not on the daily radar. You’re not in the newspapers; you’re not talked about all the time. We feel in England that sometimes news of us doesn’t arrive back home.
To explain his point of view, Mata used a somewhat surprising compatriot as a demonstration that Spaniards in England can be left in the lurch despite showcasing their talents in one of the world’s best leagues.
In Spain they don’t talk much about what happens here. An example that comes to mind is Santi Cazorla: he’s a very important player – captain of Arsenal – but isn’t so recognised in Spain.
It might be surprising to hear the midfielder’s opinion given that over a quarter of the current Spain squad plays in the Premier League, with others such as Diego Costa out injured, but he may have a point; just look at Iago Aspas, finally included in the group only after returning home, despite his amazing performances and corner taking for Liverpool.
Mata also went on to compliment the English game by calling it “pure” and “honest”. Although this may conjure an image of Johnny Kill down the pub with the lads complaining about those bleedin’ foreigners and their theatrics, the playmaker was referencing the style and ferocity of the play rather the stereotype of players in the Premier League manipulating the referee less.
Speaking of attempting to manipulate the referee, there were also some words on serial complainer and future MLS star, Wayne Rooney. When asked about his teammate, Mata compared him to Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker. It is unclear as to whether he was speaking historically or suggesting that the three are currently capable of performing at around the same level.