Barça fined over crowd boos and whistles at king

Spanish authorities Monday moved to fine FC Barcelona €66,000 ($67,000) and Athletic Bilbao €18,000 over last season's Cup final where fans of the Catalan and Basque sides whistled Spain's King Felipe VI.

Barça fined over crowd boos and whistles at king
Barcelona has been fined €66,000 for the behaviour of its fans during last season's Cup final. Photo: Quique Garcia/AFP

The state Higher Sports Council proposed the sanctions for “behaviour whose aim was to transform the sporting event into a stage for political demands through intolerant acts”.

These included “whistling the national anthem and His Majesty the King”, patron of the cup, the council said in a statement.

It also proposed a €123,000 fine for the Royal Spanish Football Federation as organizer of the Copa del Rey final at Barcelona's Nou Camp ground on May 30th, which Barça won 3-1.

Fans of both sides drowned out the Spanish national anthem with boos and whistles at the start of the match.

The controversy came at a time of high political sensitivities, with Catalan leaders campaigning for independence from Spain ahead of a key regional election expected in September.

The sports council's Antiviolence Commission set various administrative fines for the whistling and for alleged security shortcomings including the burning of flares.

Those targeted by the fines can appeal against them to the state authorities, who will hear their claims before making a final ruling.

The fine against Barcelona consisted of €6,000 for failing to take sufficient action beforehand against groups that called the protests, and €60,000 for security breaches.

The commission issued an €18,000 fine against Athletic Bilbao for failing to crack down on fans who announced their planned protests ahead of the match.

It also issued fines for various Catalan pro-independence civil groups.

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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.