Barcelona win behind closed doors after day of unrest

October 2, 2017
Source: BBC
Barcelona win behind closed doors after day of unrest

Barcelona's La Liga game against Las Palmas was played behind closed doors as a protest after their request for it to be postponed in light of Catalonia's independence referendum was rejected.

The Spanish government pledged to stop a poll declared illegal on a day of violent protests and unrest.

Barca took the decision to play behind closed doors 25 minutes before kick-off, with thousands of fans outside.

The league leaders cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Catalonia, a region of 7.5 million people in north-eastern Spain, has its own language and culture and Barcelona is its capital.

It also has a high degree of autonomy, but is not recognised as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.

Police used batons and fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests in Barcelona, and the Catalan government say more than 800 people have been injured.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said police had "acted with professionalism and in a proportionate way".

A statement from La Liga said the match should take place as normal because the security and safety of fans had been "guaranteed" by the Catalan police.

Spanish football writer Andy West, who was at the Nou Camp, said Barcelona's decision to play behind closed doors was a protest against it being given the go-ahead.

He said: "According to the club, they asked for a postponement because they did not feel it would be appropriate to play the game considering the abnormal scenes which are taking place around Catalonia.

"The league refused and threatened a heavy sanction - presumably the six-point penalty which has been reported.

"So Barca reluctantly agreed to play the game but, as a sign of protest, they insisted it could only take place behind closed doors."

Barcelona easily won the game thanks to two goals from Lionel Messi and one from Sergio Busquets.