The arrest of nine Catalan separatist leaders on Monday and subsequent jail terms announced by the Supreme Court, for their roles in an illegal referendum and subsequent failed independence bid, sparked protests and clashes across the region. And football isn’t untouched.
Clasico to be moved?
Spain’s top football division has asked that this month’s El Clasico match between Barcelona and Real Madrid be moved from Barcelona to the capital amid growing protests in Catalonia. It means the reverse fixture, scheduled for March, will take place in Barcelona.
The match is due to take place on October 26 at Barca’s Camp Nou stadium but La Liga has asked the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to reverse the fixture, citing ‘exceptional circumstances beyond our control.’
Barcelona and Real Madrid are often seen through a political prism. Real has long been seen as an emblem of Spain’s establishment and the Clasico in Madrid is often awash with Spain flags. When Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, play their matches at Camp Nou, fans traditionally chant for “independence” at 17 minutes, 14 seconds into the game, signifying the year “1714” when Catalonia first lost its independence following a Madrid-based court ruling.