Cristiano Ronaldo

Barcelona’s manager explains why they played their game behind closed doors

For the people

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has explained that the club decided to play their game against Las Palmas behind closed doors due to the violence aimed at the peaceful voters and protesters.

The club tried to get the game called off, but as that wasn’t allowed by the La Liga federation, they took the unprecedented decision instead, with many unsure of what would happen even right up until the start of the game after the situation descended into chaos and mass violence.

Valverde said: “It’s been a different situation from other situations, at least in my career.

“The club has tried to postpone the game, it has not been possible, and the club has decided to make an exceptional gesture to a situation that was being generated throughout Catalonia.

“It is a decision that has put the club in a difficult situation.

“Until shortly before playing we did not know if we would play.

“The president went down to the locker room, we spoke about it and in the end it is a consensual decision with the club.

“I have grown up in a place where I have lived through all kind of situations.

“What we are trying to do is to respect the opinions of the whole world and it seems that this has not been the case.

“What we are hoping is to be taken back, but I am not a politician and I do not understand much of this. Only football.”

Messi’s reaction

While it was expected that the likes of former player Xavi and Gerard Pique would support the independence campaign, one player who also threw his weight behind the people brutalised by the police was Lionel Messi, who refused to celebrate his goals after the violence.