FC Barcelona playing Las Palmas in empty stadium amid political turbulence

Oct. 1 (UPI) — FC Barcelona locked the doors of Camp Nou to fans for its game Sunday against Las Palmas amid a controversial vote for Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

The Spanish central government and the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled the referendum illegal. The Spanish government also took extreme measures to prevent the vote from taking place.

More than 300 people were hurt in battles with the police Sunday during the referendum.

FC Barcelona released a statement on Sunday taking a stance against the voting blockade.

Las Palmas issued a statement saying that the team would wear T-shirts embroidered with a small Spanish flag and Sunday’s date.

“FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression,” FC Barcelona said in the statement.

“Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League’s refusal to postpone the game.”

Las Palmas and FC Barcelona went into the second half scoreless. Segio Busquets and Lionel Messi scored in the second half to make it 2-0 after 69 minutes.

“Today the UD Las Palmas pays a visit to an unprecedented date for our country, the day that the Catalan government set for a referendum outside the Spanish legal framework, with the force that has the international echo of everything that happens in the Camp Nou,” Las Palmas said in a statement. “Public pronouncements in the previous days, especially that of our host, FC Barcelona, have made this official match of the Santander League something more than a sporting event in compliance with the calendar.”

The Spanish police have seized millions of ballots and arrested vote organizers. The vote was set to begin at 9 a.m. Sunday. Catalan officials have vowed to have the vote unobstructed.

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