Football

Bartomeu: Barca's future may lie outside La Liga

Barcelona and their members would have to decide which football league to play in if Catalonia gain independence from Spain, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said.

The Catalan club played behind closed doors at the Nou Camp on Sunday, beating Las Palmas 3-0 in La Liga, as a protest against Spain using force to prevent voters taking part in a banned referendum to decide the region's fate.

More than 840 people needed medical attention after riot police clashed with some of those attempting to participate in the controversial vote on secession, which the Spanish government had ruled illegal.

"In the case of independence, the club and the members would have to decide in which league we would play," Bartomeu said.

"We are going through difficult and complicated moments and, with respect to what could happen in the future, we will take it on with calm and wisdom."

BARCA IN OTHER LEAGUES?

Catalan sports minister Gerard Figueras last week said Barcelona may be able to play in another country should the region achieve independence from Spain.

"In the case of independence, Catalan teams in La Liga - Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona - will have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or a neighbouring country like Italy, France or England," he said.

Bartomeu also said he had accepted the resignation of Barcelona vice-president Carles Vilarrubi and director Jordi Mones, who opposed the decision to play behind closed doors.

He said: "We thank both of them for their dedication during all their years of service to the club."

Bartomeu added that choosing to play without fans against Las Palmas on Sunday was one of the hardest decisions he has had to make as the club's president, since taking over from Sandro Rosell in January 2014.

Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona all announced on Monday that they would join a region-wide general strike in Catalonia yesterday, following the weekend's events. - REUTERS

la ligabarcelonaSpain