La Liga President Javier Tebas supports the Copa del Rey Final Estelada ban as the flag ‘is a symbol that advocates the break-up of Spain.’
The government has decreed the pro-Catalan independence flag should be prohibited from Sunday’s final between Barcelona and Sevilla, at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon, with La Blaugrana branding the decision ‘an attack on freedom of speech.’
“I respect and understand the decision of the government delegate. Remember, this is the Copa del Rey, the Copa de Espana, and the Estelada is a symbol that advocates the break-up of Spain,” Tebas said, AS reports.
“It makes sense that, this being the Copa de Espana, that to preserve public order, symbols for the break-up of Spain aren’t allowed.
“Barca are a team of Catalonia and they have always operated on these lines. It’s an eternal debate, almost philosophical, whether or not it is freedom of expression. Barca think so. I respect that. The government delegate, and I personally, believe that in the Copa del Rey Final, in this area, it isn’t freedom of expression.
“We don’t consider this a problem on the street or in La Liga games, but you have to look at the area. Barca take their decisions and defend their people. The Estelada goes against the unity of Spain, against the Copa. I don’t think that should be. At Camp Nou it’d be no problem, no risk.”
Last year’s Copa final, between Barca and Athletic Bilbao, saw the national anthem jeered by both sets of fans, and Tebas expects the Barca supporters to do the same again, though he insists it’s not as common as a year ago.
“Two and two is four. One part of the ground will jeer, the other won’t. The whistles are becoming much less. It seems like a lot in the stadiums. Increasingly, Barca fans, whether they like the anthem or not, respect it. Catalans are polite and respectful people, a tolerant society,” he added.