ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Spanish football giants Barcelona on Sunday defeated La Liga opponents Las Palmas 3-0 after the fixture was initially suspended due to violence ahead of a referendum in Catalonia where the club is based.
Barcelona officials agreed to play the match behind closed doors after Las Palmas rejected a call to postpone the game.
Sergio Busquets gave Barcelona the lead at the start of the second-half before a Lionel Messi double sealed a 3-0 victory for the Catalan club.
Barcelona had been trying to force a suspension of the match, but police gave the green light which meant a possible three-point deduction, fine, and 3-0 loss if they did not play.
Leading up to Catalonia’s independence vote, violence erupted between law enforcement and demonstrators in the streets with reports of police confiscating ballot boxes at polling stations.
“FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression,” a statement from the club denouncing the violence read.
“Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors,” following the league’s refusal to postpone the match, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Las Palmas appeared to add fuel to the flames by adding a Spanish flag to their shirts for the match.
“Las Palmas could [have] limited itself to being a mute witness to this historic crossroads or take action,” a club statement said. “We’ve opted for the latter.”
“We’ve decided to add to our shirt a small Spanish flag and today’s date, to make clear our hopes for the future of this country,” the statement continued.
As the region prepares to vote in a referendum, considered illegal by the central government in Madrid, violence has erupted between police and protestors in the streets of the Catalan capital.
An earlier decision to postpone the match after club officials couldn’t guarantee the safety of fans or players was eventually overturned.