Tampa Bay Times

Real Madrid to visit Catalonia amid trouble

- Times wires

Real Madrid is trying to keep the focus on soccer as it travels to Catalonia to play a Spanish league match this weekend.

Madrid faces Catalan club Girona on Sunday amid heightened tensions in the northeaste­rn region that has been clashing with Spain’s central government. The political crisis reached a climax Friday, with Catalonia’s regional parliament voting to unilateral­ly declare independen­ce and Spain’s government firing the regional leaders and calling for new local elections.

It will be Madrid’s first trip to Catalonia since the crisis escalated.

Madrid, seen as the club of the Spanish establishm­ent, has reportedly taken precaution­s ahead of its trip, including not using its official team bus, but it has tried hard to distance itself from the political turmoil. “We’ll play our game without thinking about anything else,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said.

He said players are not concerned about their safety during the trip to Girona, a city filled with pro-independen­ce sentiment just north of Barcelona. WORLD CUP: The 2018 champion will get $38 million from a prize fund FIFA has increased by 12 percent to $400 million. Each of the 32 competing national federation­s in Russia will get at least $8 million, the same as in 2014, when the overall prize fund was $358 million, the sport’s governing body said. In 2014, champion Germany received $35 million. The United States didn’t qualify for the 2018 tournament.

ET CETERA

AUTOS: Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will make another venture into American auto racing in the 24 Hours at Daytona race in January. Alonso raced the Indianapol­is 500 this year and led the race for 27 laps before engine failure retired his car.

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