Barcelona game shouldn’t have been played, says Pep Guardiola

Barcelona's players emerged for the pre-match warm-up wearing shirts in the colours of the Catalan flag ahead of their match with Las Palmas. Picture: Getty Images
Barcelona's players emerged for the pre-match warm-up wearing shirts in the colours of the Catalan flag ahead of their match with Las Palmas. Picture: Getty Images
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Pep Guardiola believes Sunday’s match between Barcelona and Las Palmas should not have gone ahead, and should certainly not have been played behind closed doors at the Nou Camp as was the case in the end.

Former Barca boss Guardiola, who is now in charge of Manchester City, also called on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to answer questions after violent scenes broke out during Catalonia’s unofficial independence referendum.

Pep Guardiola believes Barcelona's La Liga clash with Las Palmas shouldn't have been played. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola believes Barcelona's La Liga clash with Las Palmas shouldn't have been played. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

More than 750 people were reported to have been injured as security forces used rubber bullets and baton charges as they clashed with protesters in Barcelona.

READ MORE - Catalan referendum: Pro-independence side declares landslide

Amid that backdrop of rising tensions in the city, Barca had attempted to get their LaLiga fixture with Las Palmas postponed but, after seeing their request rejected by the Liga de Futbol Profesional, ended up playing the match with no spectators in attendance - with the hosts winning 3-0.

Guardiola said he would have been against the decision, telling Catalunya Radio and RAC1: “I wouldn’t have played the Barca-Las Palmas game, not at all.

Guardiola was critical of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. Picture: Getty Images

Guardiola was critical of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. Picture: Getty Images

“And if it did have to be played, then not behind closed doors. You do it with the public there. With all the consequences.”

The 46-year-old Catalan, who represented Barcelona for over two decades as a player and coach, was also left shocked by the scenes of violence that were broadcast around the world as attempts to shut down the polls by Spain’s Guardia Civil led to clashes.

The Madrid-based Spanish government had declared the referendum illegal. Voters were being asked whether they wish Catalonia to become an independent republic.

Guardola said: “The images don’t lie, there were people who wanted to vote and they’ve been attacked with violence.

“There are more than 700 hurt... people who were going to vote, not rob a bank. Spain will try to hide the reality, but the rest of the world’s media will show it.

“The images are clear and everybody knows what has happened. We don’t want them to think that we don’t like Spain. Spain is an incredible country, with its literature, sport, cities...

“But you need to understand that there’s a population who want to decide their future.”

Guardiola was also critical of Rajoy.

READ MORE - Leader comment: Spain will live to rue its day of shame

He added: “The Prime Minister of the Spanish government must accept questions, continue being the Prime Minister of all Spaniards.

“The laws are different now to 30 years ago. Everything’s changed.

“The message from the Prime Minister of the Government, from the opposition, has made me sad.

“Why can’t we learn from the British, who have had many more years of democracy then us?”