Cape Verde players speak up for Portuguese language

LISBON Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:52pm GMT

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LISBON (Reuters) - Cape Verde's football team say they are doing their bit to promote the Portuguese language by refusing to give interviews in any other tongue at the African Nations Cup.

"One of the reasons why Portuguese is not well projected internationally is that we enjoy being polite to foreigners and speak to them in their languages," team spokesman Gerson de Matos told Portuguese daily a Bola on Wednesday.

The order to stick to Portuguese at the tournament in South Africa came from Cape Verde President Jorge Carlos Fonseca.

"We are over 200 million Portuguese speakers in the world; if we made the point of speaking Portuguese maybe people would take our language more seriously," Matos said.

Debutants Cape Verde have been the surprise package at the Nations Cup, reaching the last eight after two draws and a nerve-racking 2-1 win over fellow Portuguese-speakers Angola.

"Cape Verde may not have the international weight of Brazil, Angola and Portugal but at least it is doing its bit," Matos said.

Cape Verde, the smallest country ever to compete in the cup finals, gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and joined FIFA, soccer's world governing body, in 1986.

(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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