Catalan clubs join strike after referendum violence

Over 800 people were injured when police tried to stop vote on Sunday

Barcelona’s match against Las Palmas was played behing closed doors. Photograph: Alejandro Garcia/EPA

La Liga sides Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona have decided to join the general strike in Catalonia on Tuesday.

The strike, called by more than 40 unions and associations in the region under the umbrella organisation Table for Democracy, is due to police violently attempting to stop Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday, which was deemed illegal by the Spanish government.

More than 840 people needed medical assistance following charges from riot police in ugly scenes as part of Spain’s deepest constitutional crisis for decades. While many players from Barcelona’s first team will leave to join their national squads ahead of the upcoming international fixtures, the remaining players and club staff will not attend the training centre on Tuesday.

“FC Barcelona joins the country wide strike called for by the Table for Democracy and therefore the club will be closed tomorrow,” Barcelona tweeted on Monday. “None of the professional teams or the youth teams at FC Barcelona will train tomorrow at the Ciutat Esportiva.”


Espanyol and Girona, also based in Catalonia, released statements on Monday declaring their intentions to join the general strike as well.

Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, believes Sunday's match between Barcelona and Las Palmas should not have gone ahead, and should certainly not have been played behind closed doors at the Nou Camp.

Former Barca boss Guardiola, who is now in charge of Premier League leaders Manchester City, also called on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to answer questions after violent scenes broke out during Catalonia's unofficial independence referendum.

With rising tensions in the city, Barca had attempted to get their fixture with Las Palmas postponed but, after seeing their request rejected by the Liga de Futbol Profesional, ended up playing the match with no spectators in attendance — with the hosts winning 3-0.

Guardiola said he would have been against the decision, telling Catalunya Radio and RAC1: “I wouldn’t have played the Barca-Las Palmas game, not at all.

“And if it did have to be played, then not behind closed doors. You do it with the public there. With all the consequences.”

The 46-year-old Catalan, who represented Barcelona for over two decades as a player and coach, was also left shocked by the scenes of violence that were broadcast around the world.

Guardola said: “The images don’t lie, there were people who wanted to vote and they’ve been attacked with violence.

“There are more than 700 hurt . . . people who were going to vote, not rob a bank.

"Spain will try to hide the reality, but the rest of the world's media will show it.

“The images are clear and everybody knows what has happened.

“We don’t want them to think that we don’t like Spain. Spain is an incredible country, with its literature, sport, cities... But you need to understand that there’s a population who want to decide their future.”

Guardiola was also critical of Rajoy. He added: “The Prime Minister of the Spanish government must accept questions, continue being the Prime Minister of all Spaniards.

“The laws are different now to 30 years ago. Everything’s changed.

“The message from the Prime Minister of the Government, from the opposition, has made me sad.

“Why can’t we learn from the British, who have had many more years of democracy than us?”