Barca fans sue UEFA over flags

Two Barcelona fans have started legal action against UEFA over the fine the club received for the display of Estelada flags during a Champions League game.

Barca were fined €40,000 following the win over Bayer Leverkusen after the flags, which represent Catalan independence, were found to contravene the governing body’s rules on political statements in stadiums, the club having been similarly punished after the Champions League final earlier in 2015.

“We began the action because two articles of the Constitution were violated: Article 16, which defends freedom of thought, and 20, which relates to freedom of expression,” Ramon Estebe, the lawyer representing the pair, said, according to ABC Deportes.

Estebe added that the Estelada is ‘fully legal’ as it was in 2014 recognised by the Catalan parliament, and criticised the ‘sudden change of mind’ of UEFA.

“For decades they have allowed and authorised the display of these flags by fans, both at Barca’s ground or away from home,” he argued.

One of the Barca members behind the suit, Francesc Abad, is quoted as complaining UEFA have violated his freedom of expression by banning the Estelada.

“I’ve been a Barca member for 30 years and I have always taken the Estelada to the ground,” he noted.

“I don’t understand how now, after so many years, I can be prohibited to take a flag that is part of our collective heritage and why my club has been punished.

“I feel my freedom of expression has been violated.”