Sport

Bartomeu: "Playing behind closed doors is a protest"

Bartomeu:

Barcelona defeated Las Palmas 3-0 to stay flawless with two goals by Lionel Messi and one by Sergio Busquets in a game played in an empty Camp Nou Stadium to protest the Spanish government's attempt to halt Catalonia's referendum.

More than 300 people were injured on Sunday as Spanish authorities tried to stop the independence vote that the central government said was unconstitutional.

The game was thrown into chaos when reports in the Spanish media said the club had postponed the game less than an hour before kick off, and supporters were not allowed through the Nou Camp gates.

"That is why we played behind closed doors, because it was a consensual decision of the club". "It was hard without the supporters".

Legendary Barca midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who now plays for Qatari side Al Sadd, also posted a video on social media describing the events as "shameful". It was my worst experience as a professional.

Amid the worldwide break, Barca have already joined a Catalonia-wide strike on Tuesday and will continue to defend the people's right to self-determination.

And former Barca captain Carles Puyol added his support for the referendum by posting "To vote is democracy!" on his Twitter account.

"Pique? You can agree with him or not, but Pique is a fearless guy". In the (General Francisco) Franco era, we couldn't defend our ideas. "I am and I feel Catalan, and I've never felt prouder of the people of Catalonia".

"I couldn't believe it". All my support goes to the people who are peacefully trying to exercise their right to vote. "In order that the whole world could see what's happened here". That is why I must say that this was one of the most hard decisions that I have ever had to make as Barca president. A peaceful protest might be a more accurate description of what the referendum hoped to achieve given that Spain remain unlikely to grant Catalonia the independence they crave.

Pique's political stance has seen him targeted by Spain fans when playing for the national team, despite his role in winning the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 with the national team.

Piqué told journalists that he would still make himself available for the Spanish national team as it prepared for next year's World Cup in Russian Federation.

He is now due to link up with La Roja for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel - but says he is willing to step aside before Russian Federation 2018 if his involvement is an issue. "I'm not going to be part of this spectacle". "If anyone in the federation thinks I am a problem, I don't have a problem in stepping aside and retiring from worldwide football before 2018".



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