Barcelona game in jeopardy; Las Palmas to wear Spanish flag

AP , Sunday 1 Oct 2017

Spain Flag
Demonstrators wave Spanish flags during a demonstration in favor of a unified Spain on the day of a banned independence referendum in Catalonia, in Madrid, Spain, October 1, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Barcelona's Spanish league game against Las Palmas could be suspended amid the controversial referendum on Catalonia's independence on Sunday.

Barcelona club officials were meeting to decide whether the game at the Camp Nou Stadium should go ahead while Spanish authorities continued to try to halt the vote that the central government said was unconstitutional.

Spanish media said the club planned to call for the match's suspension because of safety concerns.

Several people were injured Sunday after riot police smashed their way into polling stations and fired rubber bullets at protesters outside a Barcelona polling station.

Las Palmas said it would show its support for a unified Spain by adding a Spanish flag to the shirts that the team was going to wear against Barcelona.

The Canary Islands club said that Sunday's match had become more than a sporting event, especially because of the recent statements by Barcelona expressing its support for the referendum.

Las Palmas said the club will not limit itself to being a ''quiet witness at an historic crossroads.'' It said that by wearing the flag it will be showing its unequivocal support for a ''united Spain.''

The club noted that even though it is based far from the mainland, it ''never felt the slightest temptation to become another country.''

''We are doing this to show the world that we are hurt by what is happening,'' the club said in its statement.

Barcelona has openly backed the referendum and criticized Spanish authorities trying to impede the vote that Spain's government considers illegal because questions of state should involve all Spaniards, not just those in one region.

Barcelona's Camp Nou, Europe's largest stadium with a capacity of nearly 100,000, is often used as a rallying point for Catalan nationalists.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, one of the most outspoken players defending the referendum, called Sunday's incidents ''shameful.''

Before casting his vote, he said on Twitter that ''together we are unstoppable defending democracy.''

The Catalan soccer federation canceled all local games organized by the federation, most of them involving youth squads and lower divisions.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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