1 Oct 2017

Barcelona FC protests Catalonia violence by playing match in totally empty stadium (photos)

Barcelona FC played its Spanish league game against Las Palmas in a completely empty stadium amid horrific violence in Catalonia.
The football club had openly backed an independence referendum, and criticised the Spanish government for trying to stop the vote by force – a move that has left hundreds injured in the state.

Its president said that their decision to play the match behind closed doors was made by the club as a way to protest against the government’s actions. Making a statement of its own, Las Palmas’ players had the Spanish flag embroidered onto their shirts ahead of the match. Barcelona won 3-0.

The club had wanted the match at Barcelona’s Camp Nou to be postponed, but the Spanish league apparently refused to accept its request. ‘We tried to suspend the game all day long but it wasn’t possible,’ Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said.

‘We could lose points if we didn’t play, so we decided to play behind closed doors as a way to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened (in Catalonia).’ At least 761 people were injured after the Spanish authorities tried to stop a Catalonian vote for independence.

In a statement released less than half an hour before kick-off, the football club said: ‘FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression.

‘Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League’s refusal to postpone the game.’

Bartomeu added that police had guaranteed the safety of fans and everyone else involved in the match, so the club could have allowed them in if it had wished to. Speaking in a televised address after the polls closed, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy declared that ‘there was no independence referendum’ in the state.

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