Barca risk penalty after anthem boos during final

Barcelona FC will find out today whether they face sanctions after the national anthem was drowned out with jeers during Saturday's Copa del Rey final.

Barca risk penalty after anthem boos during final
Catalans displayed the Estelada flag during the national anthem. Photo: Lluis Gene / AFP

The Spanish government has called a meeting for Monday to discuss what action to take after the crowd loudly jeered during the national anthem at the final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao.

A capacity crowd of 99,000 supporters filled Barca's Camp Nou stadium Saturday for the Catalans 3-1 victory, but the game had a controversial beginning as supporters of both clubs with a strong regional identity drowned out the traditional playing of the anthem with whistles.

“The government condemns the attacks against symbols which represent all Spaniards, the democracy that protects us and the society we share,” the government's press department said in a statement.

“As a consequence the state commission against violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance has been called for this Monday, June 1, with the objective to proceed with charges for these actions.”

A letter had been sent to both clubs and the Spanish Football Federation ahead of the final by the president of the country's sports council warning that punishment would be forthcoming if the playing of the anthem was not respected.

It is the third time that Barca and Athletic have met in the final in the past seven years with a similar reaction having taken place in the previous finals in Valencia in 2009 and Madrid in 2012.

In contrast to the multinational nature of modern football, Athletic maintain a policy of only playing Basque born or trained players.

Meanwhile, Barca's success on the field has made them a strong symbol for the Catalan independence drive.

Earlier this season Barca got special dispensation to wear their away shirt in the colours of the Catalan flag in a home game against Athletic to mark the 300th anniversary of the loss of Catalan sovereignty.

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.