Empty Camp Nou a show of referendum solidarity, Barcelona president claims
Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu claims the decision to play yesterday’s match against Las Palmas behind closed doors was an act of protest amid attempts by the Spanish government to halt the Catalan independence referendum.
Clashes involving riot police and protesters have taken place as voters in the region went to the polls in a referendum which Spain’s national government has declared to be unconstitutional and illegal.
The Barcelona board met as footage of law enforcement officers using batons and rubber bullets on the crowds emerged, while voters were forcibly removed from some polling stations.
Less than an hour and a half before the scheduled kick-off, reports emerged that the Liga game would not take place following advice from Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra police force.
But a club statement from Barcelona, released 25 minutes before the match was due to begin, said the Spanish Football League (LFP) had rejected a proposal for the fixture to be postponed.
And the game instead went ahead without the presence of spectators, as La Liga leaders Barca sought to avoid suffering a six-point penalty.
Bartomeu, speaking to beIN Sports, claimed the decision to kick off at an eerily quiet Camp Nou was intended to send a message.
He said, “[It was] a measure to show our rejection of what has been experienced today.
“It is not a security issue, the Mossos had given us permission to play, it was all right.
“We want to state that the game is different for everything [that] is happening in Catalonia, for the lack of freedoms that we suffer.
“Not playing would have been six points lost, three for not playing and three for sanction.”
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