Spain Resorts to Soccer to Explain Result of Gibraltar Contest

(Bloomberg) -- As debate rages over who won the diplomatic contest over the Brexit accord, Spaniards are -- perhaps inevitably for a sports-mad nation -- reaching for soccer metaphors to explain the result.

Albert Rivera, the leader of opposition Ciudadanos party, accused Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of allowing the British to score a “goal from the corner” by catching him off-guard with a document that Rivera said doesn’t sufficiently protect Spanish interests over future talks on Gibraltar.

“When you negotiate badly and get to the last minute of the game, you’re obliged to accept any kind of solution, however bad it is,” said Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, a foreign minister in the previous People’s Party government of Mariano Rajoy.

Sanchez himself claims he achieved Spain’s objectives by securing guarantees that Spain will have a say on future talks on Gibraltar. Statements to that effect by European Union and British officials cleared the way for EU prime ministers to sign off on the Brexit accord on Sunday after Sanchez withdrew Spanish objections to it.

“They didn’t score a goal against us,” said Luis Marco Aguiriano, Spain’s secretary of state for the EU, told Onda Cero radio on Monday. “In fact, we produced a save similar to the best of any that Iribar made in the past.”

Jose Angel Iribar Kortajarena was a legendary Spanish goalkeeper who played for the national side from 1964 to 1976.

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