Barcelona blast Catalan flag cup final ban

Barcelona, May 19

Barcelona blasted a Madrid-imposed ban on Catalan flags being flown at Sunday’s Copa del Rey final as an attack on freedom of expression on Wednesday.

The final against Sevilla is being played at the Vicente Calderon, the home of Atletico Madrid, in the Spanish capital. But the Community of Madrid authorities have told Barcelona that the Estelada independence flags cannot be flown. “FC Barcelona expresses, in the most absolute terms, its total and complete disagreement with the announcement,” said a statement released by the Spanish champions. “FC Barcelona considers the decision to be an attack on the freedom of expression, the fundamental right of each and every individual to express their ideas and opinions freely and without censorship, a right which is recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The club called for an immediate rethink on the ban which is likely to be enforced by body searches of Barcelona fans at the stadium. “FC Barcelona calls for the use of common sense and responsibility and demands the government representative’s cooperation in creating the good atmosphere a match such as the Copa del Rey final deserves,” said the statement.

“FC Barcelona also implores the representative (of the Spanish government) to respect the honour of the institutions involved in this final and to avoid causing any uncomfortable situations.”

One of Spain’s 17 semi-autonomous regions with its own language and customs, Catalonia enjoys a large degree of freedom in education, health and policing. But fed up after years of demands for greater autonomy on the taxation front — complaining it pays more to Madrid than it gets back — the region has veered towards separatism.