FC Barcelona Plays Through Protests


FC Barcelona played a part in the ongoing Catalonia protests, as they played a game in front of an empty stadium. (Courtesy of Twitter)

By Andrew Posadas

Despite speculation that Sunday’s game between Las Palmas and FC Barcelona would be postponed due to the political situation in Catalonia, the Royal Spanish Federation ordered the match to be play as scheduled.

Throughout the week, the province of Catalonia had been strongly pushing for independence from Spain, something the government has considered an illegal act against the country. With voting happening on the same day as Barcelona’s home game against Las Palmas, officials from the Catalan club feared that the game may be better off being scheduled at another date. It seemed that their fears were justified when reports came in that police began shutting down polling areas.

Their intentions became clear: the Spanish government had police do everything in their power to stop Catalans from voting. Completely aware that allowing the people to vote could guarantee independence from Spain, police fired rubber bullets at citizens and physically barred anyone from getting to use the polls.

Barcelona had been vocal on social media that they were disappointed in the week’s events. In a statement released Sunday, the club went on to say that “FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens their democratic right to free expression.”

Members of the club argued that playing later in the day after the events transpiring between police and protesters may be dangerous to both teams on the pitch. Some believed that people may invade the field during the game as a form of protest; there was also concern that the game would not be given sufficient security, noting the majority of police officer’s precedent was to stop members of the city from voting. However, La Liga, Spain’s premier league, adamantly refused to suspend the match, warning Barcelona they faced a three-point deduction punishment if the club refused to play.

With security around the stadium awaiting word on the status of the match, Barcelona ultimately decided they would play with no fans in attendance. Team President Josep Bartomeu spoke to beIN Sports, citing that the game would be played “so that the world can see the situation in Catalonia.” This is the first time in the club’s history that a game would be played behind closed doors. Barcelona would go on to win the game, 3-0 but one thing has been made abundantly clear: it isn’t just the United States going through a struggle between sports and politics.

It’s happening everywhere, and teams like FC Barcelona have the power and platform to help shed light on the events happening in their city and province. Barcelona said it best throughout its official statement: “FC Barcelona, in holding the upmost respect for its diverse body of members, will continue to support the will of the majority of Catalan people, and will do so in a civil, peaceful, and exemplary way.” Bravo, Barcelona.