Football vs. Politics: How La Liga’s Hypocrisy Has Resulted In A Huge Backlash

Football vs. Politics: How La Liga’s Hypocrisy Has Resulted In A Huge Backlash
Oct 3, 2017

Barcelona Featured La Liga

After a day of brutality lead by the Spanish police which left over 800 Catalonians injured, Barcelona faced Spanish club Las Palmas behind closed doors.

Tensions were at an all-time high on Sunday after Catalonia held an illegal independence referendum and amid the chaos caused by the vote and rising tensions within Barcelona, the match between top of the table Barcelona and Las Palmas went ahead.

Barcelona pleaded with La Liga to postpone the match, however, the governing board revealed that if the match wasn’t played Barcelona would receive a loss. The Catalan club, who are top of the table with maximum points, therefore decided the best solution would be to play behind closed doors.

Barcelona went on to win the match in emphatic style with a 3-0 victory following goals from Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi. Though, this was not the end of the controversy. Former and current Barcelona icons took to social media to voice their outrage at the decision by La Liga to not postpone the match.

Gerard Pique, a Catalonian himself, revealed the situation was his ‘worst professional experience’ in an emotional interview following Barça’s win over Las Palmas.

Pique, fuelled by anger, then offered to leave the Spanish national team for the upcoming World Cup, should his political beliefs become an issue amongst the squad. “I think I can continue,” the 30-year-old said.

“But if the board really thinks I’m a problem, I will take a step back and leave the national team before 2018. There are many people in Spain who disagree with what happened today and believe in democracy.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola offered his support towards his former defender, saying: “You can be in agreement with him or not but Pique is a brave guy.”

“The only media outlets that will not explain the seriousness of what has happened will the be the Spanish ones. The international community will have seen the images. The Spanish media will be the only ones that don’t show them. I’m annoyed that Rajoy has not spoken about those injured.”

“Why don’t we learn from the British who have had many more centuries of democracy than us. We don’t even know if Catalonia wants independence.”

Following the violence and destruction caused by the vote on Sunday, Barcelona have pledged to join trade unions and businesses in Catalonia by going on strike. The club put out the following statement on their website on Monday.

“FC Barcelona joins the countrywide strike called for by Table for Democracy and therefore the club will be closed tomorrow. None of the professional teams or the youth teams at FC Barcelona will train tomorrow.”

The denial of the request to not postpone the match was overshadowed by the decision to allow Barcelona’s opposition Las Palmas to add a Spanish flag to their shirt especially for the match.

Despite pleads by La Liga to Barcelona not to bring politics into football, the league bizarrely agreed to allow the opposition Las Palmas to add the Spanish flag to their shirts. The decision was criticised by a number of Las Palmas’ own fans with many labelling them ‘fascists’.

The Catalan club responded with a message on the scoreboard saying “Democracia”. A strong statement of support from the club in response to the appalling police brutality sanctioned by the Spanish government as well as the shirt worn by Las Palmas players.

Not only was the shirt a bad move for the club but it was also against FIFA’s law 4 which states: “Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images.”

On a day of an independence referendum, the Spanish flag is a clear political icon meaning that the sanction by La Liga is a clear breach of FIFA’s rules but more importantly a clear show of bias by the league in support of the Spanish government.

Overall, the day will go down as a bleak day in Spanish history as well as football history. What it highlights is how political bias can enter the game despite the rules. Although it is a turning point in political history this needs to become a turning point for La Liga as well. The league cannot continue to allow clubs to push their political views in this way or else other clubs will follow suit in order to push their political agendas.

 

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