Barcelona will join a strike called across Catalonia on Tuesday
Barcelona’s players and staff will join a strike called across Catalonia on Tuesday in protest at a violent crackdown by police of an independence referendum in the region on Sunday.
“FC Barcelona joins the country wide strike called for by Table for Democracy and therefore the club will be closed tomorrow,” Barcelona said in a club statement on Monday.
“None of the professional teams or the youth teams at FC Barcelona will train tomorrow.”
Clashes that saw police fire rubber bullets and force their way into polling stations to confiscate ballots left at least 92 people injured and over 800 needing medical attention, according to Catalan authorities.
“We strongly condemn the violence carried out by the state’s security forces to impede the October 1 referendum,” said a 44-strong group of organisations, including leading unions, in calling the strike.
In light of the incidents, Barca played their match against Las Palmas behind closed doors on Sunday.
Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club made the decision as a protest against the violent clashes rather than security concerns.
“Yesterday we expressed our rejection and vehement condemnation of the serious events that we experienced in our country, with abusive and indiscriminate use of force to prevent millions of people from exercising the right to vote,” Bartomeu said in a statement.
“In this context, here at FC Barcelona we decided that we had to take some kind of measure to show our indignation to the world.
“I finally decided that we would play the game, but as an exceptional measure, behind closed doors.
“We perfectly understand that many of our members and fans would have preferred the option of calling off the match. That is why I must say that this was one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make as Barca president.
“We very seriously considered the option of postponing the game, but we could not get the Liga de Futbol Profesional to approve our request.
“Having reached that point, I decided to play behind closed doors because we believed that the image of a football match being played in a completely empty Camp Nou would have been an act of responsibility and would have been a way of showing how we utterly reject the exceptional and inadmissible situation going on around Catalonia.”
The vast majority of Barcelona’s stars, including five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, who has been an outspoken defender of Catalonia’s right to self-determination, would not have trained with the club on Tuesday in any case as they are on international duty with their respective nations.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a Catalan native, represented Barcelona for 20 years as a player and coach and believes yesterday’s match against Las Palmas should not have been played.