All of us would prefer sport in general and especially football to remain away from politics but I’m afraid that is very difficult. Right now, amid all of the public outcry and unrest following the prison sentences handed to nine Catalan separatists we have El Clásico at Camp Nou. As the proverb goes, the devil finds work for idle hands to do. And the possibility that the game could be converted into an event underpinned by oppression – or in the best case scenario, as an exaltation of the message promoting Catalan independence, has prompted Javier Tebas to put forward the idea of swapping this season’s Clásicos around. That would mean this one, on 26 October being played at the Bernabéu and the second round one at Camp Nou. We’ll see if that happens and makes a difference.
El Clásico: change the venue or change the date
It’s a reasonable proposal. The government agrees that it is not advisable for a Barça-Madrid to take place right at this moment in time, given the significance that both clubs give to this fixture – especially in Catalunya, where separatists view Real Madrid as the grim spectre of centralism and Barça as the guardians of independence – and more so now following the decision by Barça’s club members to withdraw the three medals which the club awarded to [late Spanish dictator] Francisco Franco. But politics have also come into play on the football side regarding the timing of this game and neither Real Madrid nor the Federation feel it’s suitable to switch the venue. They propose rescheduling the match on a free mid-week day during the first round of games. There are two such days free in December.
Different points of view about 26-O Clásico
For Tebas, the best solution is to switch the games around because that way, they can comply with commitments to worldwide television broadcasting companies, which in itself is no small thing. Madrid feel that, if push comes to shove, only one game should be rearranged, not both. Barça hope to give the impression that things are going ahead just as normal – despite this being one of the biggest events in the football calendar. As for the Federation, they prefer the option that least appeals to Tebas. And then there are those who feel that moving the Clásico from Camp Nou is akin to kowtowing to the violent mobs that have been causing havoc on the streets. And while [President of the Catalan Government] Quim Torra is urging protesters to continue blocking roads, football is trying to find a solution, not someone to blame. That’s the way things stand.