Civil Unrest Caused Barcelona To Play Their Soccer Match In A Completely Empty Stadium
The decision left all parties unsatisfied, leading to angry statements and one exec’s resignation.
Violence plagued Spanish polling stations as citizens turned out to vote on a controversial referendum, leading to closed polling stations and riot control tactics to prevent voting in Madrid, which had banned a vote on the issue. Amid the chaos, security concerns led to an enduring and surreal image at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, where the fabled soccer team took on Las Palmas before a completely empty venue.
Spanish courts have ruled that the referendum for Catalonia’s independence is unconstitutional, leading to the closure of polling places and the threat of violence among Barcelona soccer fans, which is because the team has served as a rallying point and symbol for the region’s struggle for independence. When the team took the field before an empty stadium, they wore jerseys in the color of the Catalan flag.
The decision to proceed with the game in an empty stadium seemingly left no one happy. Barcelona criticized La Liga, the team’s league, for refusing to postpone the game to be played before fans. The team, in a statement, also spoke out definitively against the actions of Spanish law enforcement. The message reads, in part, “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.”
The team’s vice president, Carles Vilarrubí, has reportedly resigned in protest following the league’s refusal to postpone the game, but no further statement has been made from Vilarrubí himself or the team.
Barcelona won the match 3-0. A day later, violence still plagues Spanish cities over the divisive vote.