With just over a week remaining until one of the biggest match-ups in world football, it has become uncertain if the clash will forgo as planned due to political reasons.
The Barcelona-Real Madrid game was set to take place on Saturday 26th at 1pm Spanish time, but serious questions have been raised due to the possible altercations that could go on in and around the stadium, as well as the safety of the general public. The main problem being the location of the match as a result of recent affairs.
On Monday the 14th of October, the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders for events that took place in October 2017 when the Catalan government, led by Carles Puigdemont, attempted to impose a territorial independence via an illegal referendum. The politicians, who have been sentenced to 9 to 13 years, have been convicted with sedation in connection to a unilateral breakaway attempt.
As soon as the news became public, thousands of catalans took to the streets in protest, clearly unhappy with the verdict. Airports and motorways have been boycotted, shops have been set on fire and violence has been very present in the Catalonian capital, Barcelona.
Innocent people are being disrupted at work, whilst others are having to stand by while they watch their cars burn, with some being forced out of their homes because of the side effects caused by the mayhem. FC Barcelona, far off trying to calm tensions, only added fuel to the fire by posting a statement in support of the imprisoned politicians earlier this week.
But these events have also managed to affected the world of football. For starters, Valverde’s squad have had to move up their trip to Eibar ahead of this weekend’s match in Ipurúa, in an attempt to not get caught up in the “Democratic Tsunami”. The biggest problem though is El Clásico, which is to be played in just over a week at the Camp Nou, and the worries over the security of both fans and players.
If the mere Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry wasn’t enough to for police to worry about on the match-day, the political issues have caused La Liga to ask the Spanish football federation to move the match to the country’s capital and be played at the Bernabéu.
As soon as the league requested this change, Real Madrid rejected the proposal stating that they would only accept a postponement of the match, but not a change in venue, as this would give Barcelona the advantage of playing the second (and usually most decisive) of the two league matches in their stadium. The matters have become so severe that even the Spanish government has been forced to intervene and plead the match be moved to a later date.
So, what are the possibilities of the match actually happening next weekend and the options if it doesn’t?
With Real Madrid ruling out the possibility of playing at the Santiago Bernabéu, it‘s very likely that El Clásico will not be played, -at least not next week. It seems that a rescheduling will be the solution, but with that comes the problem of finding the right date. Both Barcelona and Madrid have a tight calendar from here to the New Year, and even though the Spanish league does stop for the Christmas holidays, it’s unlikely that this tradition will be interrupted for the match to be played.
The most probable scenario is that the match-up be moved to a midweek fixture (Wednesday December 18th), something unprecedented in a league clash between the two Spanish titans. Be it what may, no matter how much we love football, enduring the safety and nit putting anybody at risk is the most important thing right now. Let’s just hope it’s worth the wait.
By: Carla Fernandez