Pro-independence flags fill the Camp Nou once again

The Champions League anthem was also roundly booed once again, part of a long-running and ongoing protest against UEFA.

Pro-independence flags fill the Camp Nou once again
Albert Gea REUTERS

In what has become almost a tradition on Champions League nights the Camp Nou stands were filled with estaladas – pro-Catalan independence flags – and the Champions League anthem roundly booed ahead of Barcelona’s tie with Manchester City.

Pro-independence estelada flags fill the Camp Nou

Over 30,000 flags were distributed by a number of pro-independence groups including the National Catalan Assembly (ANC) as part of an ongoing protest against UEFA’s decision to fine Barcelona €30,000 back in 2015 for displaying esteladas during the Champions League final against Juventus in Berlin.

The club were fined a further €150,000 over the course of last season after separatist flags were flown during Champions League games at the Camp Nou, fines which the club said it considered “totally unjust and… opposed to the exercise of freedom of expression.”

Solidarity with pro-independence leaders

Wednesday’s flag display also had another objective: to show support to Carme Forcadell, President of the Catalan Parliament, after she was accused by the region’s public prosecutor of “openly disobeying authority” for allowing a debate and vote on a road map to Catalan independence deemed unconstitutional by the Spanish constitution. Forcadell was spotted in the presidential box ahead of the game, along with other pro-independence politicians such as regional president Carles Puigdemont.

Thousands of esteladas on display during last month's home opener against Celtic

The Champions League anthem was also booed again

The flags were, as usual, accompanied by boisterous booing of the Champions League anthem, an act which will no doubt be noted by the UEFA delegate in attendance Metin Kazancioglu in his post-match report.

Barcelona are currently awaiting the ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the display of esteladas during the opening Champions League fixture of the season against Celtic.