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An empty stadium is like the morgue of the masses


After a morning of discussions, Barça’s league meeting with Las Palmas was eventually played behind doors. For some, that will be the least of our worries after what happened yesterday, but you cannot deny the iconic power which football holds. Leo Messi played in that game – which was televised live in 178 countries. The shocking, violent disturbances which rocked Catalunya yesterday were broadcast right across the world. To see Messi playing in front of an empty stadium, devoid of spectators due to the supposed impossibility of doing so under normal circumstances may seem insignificant when compared to the scale of violence and casualties witnessed on Sunday, but actually, it only served to heighten the impact of the day’s events.

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If only things had turned out differently in Catalunya on Sunday...

Maybe the game should have been played on Saturday. Perhaps the best solution, given the passive attitude of the Mossos - Catalunya’s autonomous police force, and the fear that extremist groups might take over the ground, would have been to postpone it until another date. Perhaps Bartomeu, who spent several hours deliberating what to do – during which time three club directors resigned, could have shown greater resolve. If only [UD Las Palmas president Miguel Ángel] Ramírez hadn’t come up with the idea of adding, for the first time, a Spanish flag and the date braided onto the chest of the team’s shirts precisely on that day, 1st October - just when the team was to play at Camp Nou… so many ‘if onlys’. Football is a sport which was invented to make people happy and bring people together. But maybe sometimes, we cannot ask so much of it. We cannot ask it to give us reasoning and clarity when all logical thinking has gone right out of the window in the rest of the country.

Spectators left outside Camp Nou after the Las Palmas game was oplayed behind closed doors.
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Spectators left outside Camp Nou after the Las Palmas game was oplayed behind closed doors.Alex CaparrosGetty Images

Football loses

As [Uruguayan poet, Mario] Benedetti once noted, an empty football stadium is like a morgue - a grim skeleton, the bare bones of the masses. Nearly all of the fans remained outside the Camp Nou gates; however, one pro-independence supporter managed to sneak in and stage a personal pitch invasion. There are photographs of him with his fluorescent shirt, holding a flag in the stands, and later on the pitch. Like a solitary drop of acid during a silent, empty match which even Messi couldn’t alleviate with his two goals. Later on Sunday, the match between Nàstic and Barça B was called off, as were all of the evening’s games under the Catalan Federation’s jurisdiction. So football was held hostage by the day’s events. Football may not give solutions, but it can - and does bring joy. But not yesterday. Yesterday, in Catalunya, it made way for sadness and anger.