Protests could mar upcoming Barcelona-Real Madrid El Clasico

Protests could mar upcoming Barcelona-Real Madrid El Clasico

Soccer

Protests could mar upcoming Barcelona-Real Madrid El Clasico

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With the Clasico previously postponed due to political instability from the Catalonian push for independence, the match is scheduled be played tomorrow in Barcelona. An estimated three thousand-man security force will be on hand to try to quell any unrest by the protests that have been organized by Tsunami Democratic, a protest group advocating for self-determination in the Catalonia region. 

The fixture was originally scheduled for Oct. 26 but was called off due to safety concerns following the imprisonment of nine Catalan politicians and civic leaders for their role in the region’s unilateral independence referendum in 2017.  The match, which will draw an attendance of 100,000, was rescheduled for Dec. 18 and Tsunami Democratic subsequently called on people to convene at Camp Nou four hours before kick-off on the day of the rearranged fixture to send a clear message to the central Spanish government. 

Given the circumstances, Barcelona have made special arrangements for the game. The players will meet at the Hotel Princesa Sofia, located less than a half-mile from Camp Nou, eight hours before kick-off.  Normally, the players would arrive at the stadium themselves around two hours before kick-off. They will be sharing the Princesa Sofia with Real Madrid, although both teams will be in separate sections of the hotel. The teams will share a police escort to the grounds as well.

Barca are also encouraging the media to pick up their accreditation for the game the day before, if possible, and to arrive at the stadium early. They will open the doors to Camp Nou for the press at 12 p.m. CET.

Two of the major concerns are that the protests will hinder access to the stadium for the supporters and that there could be a pitch invasion.  Barca’s 2017 game against Las Palmas was played behind closed doors following violence between police and civilians which at the time marred the independence referendum. After the match local security officials said that the main reason for not allowing fans to attend was the fear of a pitch invasion.  And with 100,000 fans expected at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, authorities are taking whatever action they can to try to eliminate any violent activities by protesters. 

The Clasico itself pits two teams in a virtual tie for first place in La Liga. Let’s hope it is the main event in Barcelona tomorrow. 

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