Barca-Las Palmas in Shadow of Referendum

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Bartomeu said police had guaranteed the safety of fans and everyone else involved in the match at the Camp Nou, and the club could have allowed them in if it wanted.

Clashes involving riot police and protesters have taken place as voters in the region went to the polls in a referendum which Spain's national government has declared to be unconstitutional and illegal.

With the events outside the stadium, namely the Catalonian independence referendum, causing grave concerns about the game being safe to play, the fixture was, at one stage, called off, only for it to be decided that it would go ahead in an empty stadium, with all supporters locked out.

The Nou Camp has witnessed displays of pro-secession fervour in recent years, including chants of "independence" which take place after 17 minutes and 14 seconds in a match to mark the 1714 siege of Barcelona. "We have decided instead of abandoning the game, which is what we all wanted, to play the game in an exceptional manner, which is to say behind closed doors".

"The Barca-Las Palmas game?"

Had Barcelona refused to play the game altogether, it would have been deducted six points by La Liga.

Lionel Messi scored a brace as Barcelona eased past Las Palmas 3-0 on a surreal Sunday afternoon at the Camp Nou.

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According to the Catalan Health Ministry, about 465 people injured by police violence: 216 were hurt in Barcelona, 80 in Girona, 64 in Lleida, 53 in Terres de l'Ebre, 27 in Catalunia central and 25 in Tarragona.

Goals in the 70th and 77th minute from Lionel Messi made it a comfortable outing for the Catalan giants even if off the field their city was in turmoil. "Today's events marked the game". On a sporting level, though, it would have affected us a lot if we didn't play [a possible six-point penalty].

"It's a question which only comes up in the case of an independent Catalonia and we are not there yet", he said.

"We shall continue to tell the world about the reality of what's happening in our country and our commitment to its people and their freedoms, a commitment to which the club has remained faithful throughout its 118 years of history", the president said.

Prior to the kick-off, FC Barcelona pose for a team photo wearing shirts in the colours of Catalan flag.

He said: "I honestly think I can join up with the national team because I'm convinced there are thousands of people who totally disagree with what has happened".

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