Barcelona’s scheduled LaLiga home match against bitter rival Real Madrid on October 26 has been postponed due to fears of civil unrest surrounding the football showpiece.
The contest, dubbed ‘El Clásico’ was due to take place at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium.
However, LaLiga, which operates the top two football divisions in Spain, confirmed the postponement due to “exceptional circumstances beyond our control”, following large-scale protests across Catalonia after nine of the semi-autonomous region’s separatist leaders were jailed on Monday.
With hundreds of thousands of people having taken to the streets, about 100 people are reported to have been injured in clashes between protesters and riot police so far. Further protests were anticipated in the city on the day of the match.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid opposed calls to switch the game to Madrid, but the clubs have proposed Wednesday, December 18 as a possible new date for the clash.
Just hours before the game was called off today (Friday), Barcelona said in a statement that it was its “desire” to play the match as originally scheduled due to the club’s “utmost confidence” in the behaviour of its fans.
The separatist leaders were convicted of sedition over their role in an October 2017 independence referendum for Catalonia that was declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court. This week, they were handed sentences of between nine and 13 years by Spain’s Supreme Court.
After the sentences were announced, Barcelona said that “prison is not the solution”. The club added: “The resolution of the conflict that Catalonia is experiencing is exclusively through political dialogue.”