Messi strikes twice as Barca beat Las Palmas in empty Nou Camp

LLUIS GENE  GettyImages

LLUIS GENE GettyImages

Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia report that the club, recognised around the world as a symbol of Catalonia, tried throughout Sunday to have the game postponed and rescheduled for another day but was met with opposition from La Liga officials.

"From there, all together, directors, executives and players met and we decided, exceptionally, to play the game behind closed doors". "We made a decision to wear a small Spanish flag on our shirts today to display unequivocally our hope in the future of this country", their statement said.

Barcelona's Spanish league game against Las Palmas was played without fans at the Camp Nou Stadium amid the controversial referendum on Catalonia's independence today.

In the case of independence, Catalan teams in La Liga Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona will have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or a neighbouring country like Italy, France or the (English) Premier League, he said. That is why we played behind closed doors, because it was a consensual decision of the club.

By day's end, Catalonia's health services said 844 people had been treated in hospitals for injuries, including two in serious condition, as Spanish authorities tried to stop the independence vote that the central government said was unconstitutional.

Mr Bartomeu said police had guaranteed the safety of fans and everyone else involved in the match, and the club could have allowed them in if it wanted.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said: "It was a weird and complicated situation for everyone and it wasn't possible to postpone the game". "It was very hard, a unusual situation for everyone".

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"We lament the lack of freedom expression that's taken place in Catalonia today, which we take very seriously".

Barcelona's Nou Camp, Europe's largest stadium with a capacity of almost 100,000, is often used as a rallying point for Catalan nationalists.

Both Las Palmas and Barcelona published their starting lineups for the game, with the announcement that the game would go ahead without supporters coming 25 minutes before kickoff.

"Las Palmas could have been limited to being a silent witness of this historical crossroads or to take sides".

"FC Barcelona joins the country wide strike called for by Table for Democracy and therefore the club will be closed tomorrow", Barca said in a statement on Monday.

La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona vs Las Palmas - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - October 1, 2017 Barcelona's Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

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