Barça 3, Las Palmas 0, aka “Nobody won today”

“We did what we had to do.”

The Spanish Prime Minister said that in the wake of the day of violence that has left, as of this writing, almost 900 people injured as they attempted the simple act of casting a vote. As the Clash sang in “London Calling,” “except for the ring / Of that truncheon thing.”

The club said that it did what it had to do, in going ahead with a match that I didn’t watch, and probably won’t watch. What’s the point?

“We couldn’t find a way to postpone the game with LFP,” club president Josep Bartomeu said. “They told us we’d lose six points. (So) we protest by playing behind closed doors.” He added later that the club wanted to spotlight the situation that the people of Catalunya were in, as if the scores and scores of videos of everyone from senior citizens to Catalan firemen feeling the sting of the bat didn’t accomplish that task.

You do what you have to do, as a multinational based in Catalunya, rather than a Catalan institution. Jimmy Burns described FC Barcelona as the people’s army. The slogan “mes que un club” represents the outsized place of the football club in the eyes of Catalans. It isn’t just sport. It is political, and inextricably so, from a club official who was executed during the Spanish Civil War, to the Camp Nou for too long being the only place where Catalan, an outlawed language, could be spoken.

After the match, Busquets said, “It cost us a lot from every point of view,” mastering understatement as flawlessly as he controls his area of the pitch.

It is a match that should not have been played. The club should have said, “Do what you will, but we, as a representative of Catalunya and the Catalan people, we cannot countenance what is happening outside the walls of our Catalan home. We cannot dash about on a pitch, performing business as usual when outside, people are risking everything for what should be a simple democratic principle.”

Pep Guardiola, a man who does nothing in half measures, who is Catalan to his core, said simply enough, “I would not have played the match today.”

Yes. It’s theoretical as he wasn’t the one who would have had to explain to his players the decision. But theory is all that we have until reality happens. Millions of Catalans weren’t sure what they were going to do in the face of the imported suppression. “We will vote,” they said, but it was theoretical. When it came time to put theory into action, they were brave and noble.

Before the match, there was chaos. It was on. It was off. Nobody knew what was happening, even as soon as a half-hour before the match. Then, finally, Las Palmas players took to the pitch, in shirts bearing a Spanish flag to show their belief in a unified nation. They were followed shortly thereafter by the Barça keepers and then the players, wearing the Senyera warmup shirts in a bit of savage irony or solidarity, dependent upon your worldview.

The Senyera warmup shirts aren’t just based on the four bars of the Senyera. The blue trim echoes the Estelada, the flag of the independence movement, a movement that from this chair, the club betrayed by going on with the match. At some point, the standings don’t matter. At issue here is what is Barça in the here and now, a question that has been posed before in this space. Today, the answer is as clear as it has ever been: it’s a multinational company based in Barcelona.

Three board members have resigned because of today’s decision to play the match. Was it a decision taken lightly? Not in any way, shape or form, even as it doesn’t make up for the fact that it was the wrong decision. This match should never have been played for many reasons, all of them political. A club can’t wrap itself in the Senyera, then say, “Well, we were going to get in trouble if we didn’t play.”

In 1984, the United States, in protest of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, decided to boycott the Moscow Winter Olympics. There were athletes who had trained their whole lives, put everything on the line and sacrificed so much. They were told, because of a decision by their governing body, that their hard work didn’t matter.

Back then, there were those who said, just as they do now when American athletes kneel instead of standing to salute the national anthem, that politics doesn’t belong in sport. But man is a political animal. Politics is a part of life, just as sport is a part of life. It is only inevitable that the two intersect, from raised fists in a Black Power salute on a victory podium to a country deciding to keep its athletes home.

Those decisions are hard, as the consequences are potentially severe. When the club decided to play the match behind closed doors as a sign of protest, what was the message? Is it going to refund ticketholders, many of whom no doubt planned vacations around being able to see the team play? What of the trust it lost, as people who looked to the club as a shining symbol of Catalanisme have had their foundations rocked, too many feeling the lacerating sting of the baton, and heard the crack of rubber bullets being fired into crowds who wanted to do nothing more than have a say in determining their future.

And the team played football. And it won, even as it lost so much. There are videos of people being beaten and stomped, of old ladies and children with blood streaming from injuries on a day when everyone did what they had to do, including the people who went into harm’s way to cast their vote.

“It was an illegal action,” people will snarl. It was a protest, what should have been a non-violent one. Instead, masked police stormed into polling places and ripped away ballot boxes. Much of the world cried out in protest. Meanwhile, millionaires had a game of kickabout on a perfectly manicured lawn.

It was hard for the players. We can’t imagine how hard. Pique wept in the post-match press availability, but stood there and dealt with the questions like a future club president and a certain team captain. Busquets talked about how hard it was. Sergi Roberto Tweeted about voting, and democracy. The players understand. What kind of debate was had, who was consulted and what happened is something we might never know. But three board members resigning certainly makes a statement, and one that a great many people don’t want to hear.

FC Barcelona, “the people’s army,” let the side down today by capitulating to material demands. Lost points shouldn’t have been the issue. Yes. It’s easy for romantics, for people with no skin in the game to talk crap about a situation that doesn’t affect them in the least. The club will face no sactions for its closed-door decision, because it caved. The LFP is happy. The match went off. No rearranging TV schedules, no inconvenience.

Ask the woman who was thrown down the stairs after having her fingers broken one by one, if she cares about a football match. She waited to vote. Ask the battered, bloodied people who still stood, waiting to vote. At some point, politics transcends that status, and becomes basic human rights. And a club that took a stand, that supported the right of the Catalan people to decide, that figuratively and actually wraps itself in the Senyera, had a hard decision to make today. It made the wrong one.

Barça won, but lost. Catalunya lost, but won as its citizens showed incredible bravery and resolve. LFP lost in revealing itself to be a craven organization with no regard for anything except the bottom line. It was warned more than a week ago that this might be a possibility. It could have moved the match, and chose not to. It chose to make FC Barcelona make a hard, damaging decision.

“FC Barcelona condemns the events that have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression,” the club said in a statement. And that’s all it was. When it came time for action, the decision was clear. During the match, the Camp Nou scoreboard flashed a simple message: “Democracy,” one quite appropriately flanked by the four title sponsors, Audi, Rakuten, Nike, Estrella Damm.

The club will say that it didn’t have a choice. But it did. And it made that choice.

Former president Joan Laporta surprised no one in coming out with a statement condemning the decision to play, saying that the club, in effect, chose to aid the forces of repression. It’s exaggerated. But for all of the stuff that people claim damages “mes que un club,” it is today’s match that did the most harm.

FC Barcelona is a democracy, from the board that makes decisions to the socis who get to vote for the president. But sometimes, someone has to make a decision, an incredibly hard decision that is made a lot less so by the resolve that said action is the right thing to do.

Everyone did what they had to do, from the folks wielding the batons to the board who decided to go on to the players who then had to strap on the boots. And almost everybody lost. Players, supporters, board members, ticketholders. And in the wake of a lot of folks doing what they had to do, there isn’t much left except sadness and shame, except for the ones who most needed love and support from their institutions. The Catalan people. They won. Huge.

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

27 Comments

  1. Jim
    October 1, 2017

    I appreciate that for some the board can do no right but I’m really struggling how they can be the focus of blame for this one. Apologies if it veers into the political situation but it wasn’t the club who chose to become involved, they’ve been drawn into it and I don’t think have conducted themselves badly for all that.

    According to Pique, the board tried everything to get the game put off. When that failed they went to discuss with the players, outlined the situation and asked for their views. The players as a team made the decision that they wanted to play. Who was against? Well, you can probably make the same guesses as me but the point is it was a team decision and they all stuck by it. The board then, correctly in my view , took the decision off their shoulders and said that it was their call and that the team would play. The behind closed doors match may have been the club’s protest, I’ve no reason to doubt that, but it was also the only decision possible given that a section of the fans had said they would occupy the centre circle.

    Was the board divided? Yes, as it should have been. This is no easy decision unless you live in a world where football has nothing to do with politics or a world where it’s football’s duty to get involved. If it’s a hard one you can’t then say the correct course of action is obvious, especially if we don’t live with the consequences. I don’t pretend to know anything about Catalan politics but I do know what fervent nationalism can cost and in some ways is still costing, my country in terms of setting families against each other and a loss of tolerance for the opposite side.

    In my opinion, and it’s only that, now isn’t a time for for apportioning blame to a football club, even one which is somehow meant to carry the hopes of Catalunya (despite the fact that many of its supporters wouldn’t support independence, ) for a situation caused by a movement which went ahead with a referendum knowing it would cause it’s people to go against the ” law” and face down the authorities. That’s not clever and it’s not leadership. As soon as the national government’s over the top response was obvious, and it was, even to me from a distance, they should have moved to de-escalate it, not encourage it.

    The national government is quite simply both unfit for office and off its head. At a stroke it has massively increased support for independence and committed the sort of violence on its people that will never be forgotten. It would have been easy to let it go ahead then dismiss it as no more than an opinion poll and characterise those organising it as rabid nationalists and avoid those awful scenes.

    But this is a time for wiser council to prevail on both sides, not pushing it further. It’s not a time for hotheads or emotional diatribes ( not talking about this article here) but calm reflection on what happens now. There was a great couple interviewed by Sky who wanted to vote but were going to vote no. They talked of the need for talks not actions and the despair ahead if both sides pushed it as they feared they would.

    Btw, I am totally disgusted with my own government’s mealy-mouthed response to the events. We should be crystal clear on the use of violence by a government against peaceful citizens.

    Just my tuppenceworth as someone who was dismayed beyond belief at this happening in a city, not just a football club, I’ve had an affection for for years.

    • AlOc
      October 1, 2017

      Totally disagree with KXEVIN. Club and players were put in impossible situation – yes, you can be a moral victor now and real looser 9 months from now when everything political about today will be forgotten. Just can’t agree about mixing politics with sport – be it in US or in Catalonia. People pay money to watch entertainment – this is not a war, this not a place to express pro or against independence points of view – just play futbol, don’t make it too complicated. And what exactly wrong to be a multinational company based in Barcelona? With all due respect to La Masia, try to imagine today’s FCB without it’s multinationals – yes, core is still La Masia (don’t forget from where Messi came from), but what about all others? And another point – in order to truly prosper as a business entity (because in reality – this is what it is) in today’s world you can’t concentrate on local issues only – you have to be appealing to different audiences all over the world. And deep down, everybody agree – club symbol maybe romantic, but still, there are real life issues at play.

  2. Jim
    October 1, 2017

    Had a listen to Pique’s post match interview. Nine minutes of answering questions in what was obviously a very emotional state yet ( from what I could make out which was slightly less than half ! ) a beautifully balanced and powerful advocacy of people’s right to vote. Remind me again why he isn’t a club captain ?

  3. G6O
    October 1, 2017

    I know it isn’t, but football should be above politics and I personally would have played the game.

    Also, I support Catalan independence, but I also recognize that the referendum was illegal under Spanish constitutions and that the Spanish state is fully in its right to use violence to suppress separatist attempts. That’s what sovereign states are supposed to do — protect their territorial integrity and defend their borders. Something of which Europe as a whole has been doing very little lately, which is a sure sign of its overall decline as a society.

    However, today wasn’t the day to use force — they should have let the referendum proceed and if independence was declared after that, then you start a civil war over it. Not before.

    • Yaredinho
      October 1, 2017

      “…that the Spanish state is fully in its right to use violence to suppress separatist attempts….” what are you talking about? No one has any right to use violence and attack 700+ citizens who peacefully trying to vote, legal or not! This is Europe with EU and 21st century.

      • G6O
        October 1, 2017

        You are deeply mistaken.

        What defines the state is that the state has a monopoly over violence.

        Which it is supposed to use to maintain the rule of law. This is what police is for.

        If something illegal is happening, but police is supposed to stop it, and violence is very much in the list of tools at its disposal to do so.

        Now whether it is politically advisable to use it is a different question.

        But there is no question whether the state has the right to do so — it absolutely does.

        More generally, the state has an obligation to do everything possible to stop separatist movements. If it is not able to do that it becomes a failed state, i.e. the likes of Somalia, Iraq, etc. “Everything possible” includes sending the military and starting a civil war.

        Once again, note that whether one supports Catalan independence or not is irrelevant when it comes to recognizing the validity of what I said above. I support Catalan independence and I would like that to be resolved peacefully, but if a week from now you see Spanish tanks rolling down the streets of Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, etc. and Spanish airplanes bombing the positions of the separatists, you will not see me blaming the Spanish government for doing that — it has a duty to defend the territorial integrity of the country.

        • Yaredinho
          October 2, 2017

          One can argue using truthful statements with twisted parameters. Your points in paragraphs from 2-4 are just that. Do you know the difference between violence and illegal activity? or you think all illegal activities are violent? is police’s job to hand any form of punishment for every illegal activity?

          “More generally, the state has an obligation to do everything possible to stop separatist movements…” This is fundamentally wrong statement, to start with. Knowing the history among them, and acting as if there is no significant reason for displeasure/independence, this mentality of dictatorship has no place in these days. For you to come out and say this is ridiculous at best. Any sane person, except those bastard Spaniards from Madrid, knows that the laws and constitutions written by people and are there to serve the people, not the other way around.

          “… but if a week from now you see Spanish tanks rolling down the streets of Barcelona, Girona, Tarragona, etc. and Spanish airplanes bombing the positions of the separatists, you will not see me blaming the Spanish government for doing that — it has a duty to defend the territorial integrity of the country…”
          Which country? the country they got by force? So one can, when situation allows, concur another region and say “I have the duty to defend the territory….”

          • ooga aga
            October 2, 2017

            Good points Yaredhino. It is true that states claim to have a monopoly on violence, and they maybe claim a legal “right”, but they do not have a moral right. Allowing them this right, unquestioned, leads to tyranny. I dont know that G60 is defending states or more just pointing out that “well, of course– that’s what states do, or they wouldnt be states.” Anyways, this is something we could spend lots of time on, but in the end — I support our players.

  4. ChaoticReaper
    October 1, 2017

    Come on man, I’m pretty sure everyone who voted can take some joy into looking at the standings and seeing Barca 7 points above Madrid. We run las ligas!

  5. RealTimShady
    October 1, 2017

    Hi Kxevin – Long time reader, first time poster. I love what you’ve done with the space. This blog is my first source for FCB news, and the quality of articles here played a role in my choosing FCB as “my club.” That said – I disagree that the club made the wrong call about the match.

    I am a casual American soccer fan. I am not Catalan, and have never even been to Spain. I chose to follow Barcelona arbitrarily, based mostly on their style of play. But in the years since, I have learned about Catalunya, their culture and struggle for independence. The many, varied, and universally peaceful demonstrations in Catalunya over the years are a brilliant example that I wish more of my countrymen knew about. And that’s why I think the club made the right call – outside of Spain, this will bring more eyes to Catalunya that previously hadn’t been aware. In the current US, we’re all pretty politically fatigued – but this cut through that in a powerful and effective way. I paid attention to the issue in a way I wouldn’t have had it been a line of text in an article.

    The front page of espnfc today featured a photo of the match with the empty seats in the background. Thousands of people saw that powerful image, and it’s unusual enough that it probably drew a lot of clicks. Many people who knew nothing about Catalunya may have read the article, and continued to search the internet. They would have found excellent reporting by the BBC, The Guardian, and eventually even the NYT, Slate, and other American sources. Thanks to the actions of the Spanish Police, they would have become instantly sympathetic to the Catalan cause. And I’m sure something similar played out in sports bars across the country – Joe Schmo EPL fan is watching his match, and notices that the next tv down is an empty stadium “Hey, what’s going on there?” he asks the Barca fans watching, and a conversation is started.

    An article about a forfeit wouldn’t have had the same effect. A rescheduling wouldn’t have even generated an article. Televised footage of the election and police crackdown wouldn’t have made the evening news (a sad reality of the current climate in America). But “FC Barcelona wins in front of 0 fans,” at least caught the attention of football fans across the country.

    Whatever the result of the referendum is, it is a long road ahead. Bringing the struggle to a bigger stage (especially when the police have ceded the moral high ground), seems like a really useful move.

  6. TITO
    October 2, 2017

    IMO, the game should have been played and rightfully so it did.
    If someone should have postponed it, it has a name, the Federation.
    They should have call it off, a week earlier, no matter how the elections would have gone, just in case.
    As the poster above points it out, the way the game went it served its purpose and did sent a message to the world, if that was the intention.
    They are players. They have a goal, to win as much as possible this and every season ahead of them. Just imagine if these 3 points would make all the difference in the end between becoming a champion and not.
    The board came out with the explanation, some of the players did so as well, and in the end, it seems that no harm was done (not disastrous).
    Time will tell was this a choice in place, or a mistake.

  7. October 2, 2017

    I like this article, even as I strongly agree with both its premise and the conclusions drawn. Especially mistaken are the “everybody did what they have to do (apart from the club” and the “Catalan people won” conclusions.

    How did people who wielded the batons do what they have to do? They chose violence, and even if the national police and the guardia civil were instructed to use violence (it was widely reported they were not), some of them chose to use that violence both disproportionately and indiscriminately.

    Why on earth the minority government of Spain felt they had to stop these elections with violence baffles the mind. Their indecency is only trumped by their utter stupidity.

    While we’re on the subject, did the regional government have to push ahead with a not agreed upon referendum heavily slanted in their favor which they claimed was binding? Never mind the shady undemocratic maneuvers that took place to organize the referendum, a state that sees its territorial integrity threatened will act. And make no mistake, forcing Spain to react disproportionately was the purpose of this referendum, it was never the endgame.

    Voters were led to do what they felt they had to do, which is to resist the authorities in a non-violent manner, as if they were fighting the kind of social injustice that Martin Luther King it Gandhi. Hint: they were not, in no way whatsoever.

    The only entities here that did what they had to do were the Catalan regional police, who adhered to the instructions of non-violence, and our club, who went ahead with the game. In face of La Liga’s stubbornness, nobody would’ve gained from suspending the game and dropping six points. Scratch that, Real M*drid would’ve gained from suspending the game, so I guess if that makes you happy, sure. Most of the players wanted to play, a lot of fans wanted the game to be played and those who did not were free to not watch.

    And since the game was played, Barça is the one of the few parties here who won, namely 3 points.

    The Catalan people did not win. Maybe Kevin’s idea of winning is a fractured society, I do not share that feeling. There’s nothing romantic about families divided and brothers pitched against brothers. And for what? Because politicians found it opportune to fan the flames of nationalism in times of a crisis and one rich region of the country feels they pay more taxes than another rich region of the country.

    Extremists won today. And quite probably Putin, who helped undermine democracy here just like he’s done in the rest of Western Europe and the US. Oh, and Barça won. We’ll do a whole lot more winning once we play in la Lliga Catalana.

    • Joe Lima
      October 2, 2017

      You were going on really nicely until you got to the Putin part. You Americans are always saying what a backward country Russia is and then in the next breath grant them the status of omnipotence in being able to swing elections everywhere.
      You go along with the party line.
      The facts are simple, the Catalan people wanted to vote and they have been wanting to do this for years. Nothing to do with Putin. You are correct on one thing the Catalan people did not win because the only extremists in the story were the Madrid thugs that didn’t allow them victory.

      • October 2, 2017

        1. I think I was clear in my condemnation of the Spanish government.
        2. I’m not American.
        3. Russian bots have been found active here as well, doesn’t mean they swung an election because the results of an election in which only one side turns up to vote was not in doubt. The deterioration of western democracy is pretty high on Putin’s wishlist.
        4. I would say that it is extreme to let what was basically a tax dispute escalate into separatism and even more so if Puigdemont himself cuts undemocratic corners in order to organize a unilateral and binding referendum.
        5. As for the “victory,” it belongs to those politicians who, instead of taking responsibility for a crisis that they were also responsible for, spent years blaming Spain in order to remain in (or gain) power. However by doing so they have turned this into a lose-lose scenario for everybody involved and for Catalunya most of all because regardless how this is going to turn out this issue is breaking up families, friendships, classrooms…
        5. Who would have thought that tapping into relatively benign nationalistic feelings could ever result into violence? Oh, right…

        • Joe Lima
          October 2, 2017

          Thank you for your reply.
          1.) You were clear in your condemnation of the Spanish government. I never stated that you were not.
          2.) My apologies for my erroneous assumption.
          3.) Russian bots have been found active on this site or in your country? Why bring Putin up at all if the outcome of the referendum was a foregone conclusion as you state?
          4.) and 5.) While I agree with you that politicians play a great role in these divisive situations, I disagree with you that more than two million voters did not actually go to the poles out of their own volition. They went there because they wanted to.

  8. Jim
    October 2, 2017

    Just a wild stab here, Lev, but did you mean “DISagree ” at the start ?

    • October 2, 2017

      Haha, writing from a cell phone while On the subway makes for pretty garbled messages sometimes

  9. Nick
    October 2, 2017

    Kevin got this one wrong. Not the first time, heh?

    I don’t care what Pep or Laporta think.

    Choosing to play behind closed doors was a statement. As Tim mentioned above, it brought attention to the bigger issue even among those who don’t follow general news. Choosing to play (and winning) was a victory against the LFP, who are Spanish after all. As a consequence, we keep our points difference from EE, which is the embodiment of all that we hate about Spain.

    You can’t save 800 odd people from the idiocy of the few. Mossos were the only sensible forces, and they got reprimanded for disobedience.

    Sometimes peaceful actions are worth more than a silent protest.

    Nice passes by Suarez, by the way.

  10. October 2, 2017

    Right now as I write this, Barcelona’s various twitter accounts have announced that the club will be closed completely tomorrow due to participation in the general strike called by Table for Democracy.
    And as I write this:
    The Catalan twitter announcement is bombarded by “It should’ve been yesterdays, traitors”, “Shame on you, mercenaries”.
    The Spanish and English twitter announcements are bombarded by “Shame on you for mixing sports and politics, traitors!” “Resign, traitorous scum, not all of us are rabid independists!” “Resign, independist bastards who will ruin the club!”, etc.

    The club and the board is being blamed by both sides. Because like Pique, it is both Catalan, Spanish and International. And it is also a multimillionaire with business obligations.

    When yesterday the club finally announced that the match will be played, many asked themselves how long before :Laporta comes out and screams that the board should resign, because it no longer represents the socis and because it should’ve cancelled the match. As he did, as Benedito did, as Sala-i-Martin did. Of course, they did so as an expresident-turned-failed-independence-politician, as an ex-candidate for president and failed-motion instigator-turned-votesburner. Where was Laporta, when he wrote this? Was he trying to protect the elders from being beaten, was he volunteering at a polling station?

  11. Hamid
    October 2, 2017

    I wonder what purpose and cause not playing the game would have served. Barça has become an essential component of the Catalan identity fabric by actually playing games and winning trophies. Equating playing the game to betrayal is unfair to the board, who asked for a rescheduling, and to the players, who found themselves caught in a controversial debate that has nothing to do the job they were hired for.

    Let’s not forget that, unlike England or France, Spain is a very young and fragile democracy. Many people still see a hero in Franco and look back at military rule with nostalgia. Independence is a very long process and by choosing to hastily start with the end, pro-independence Catalan politicians (many in Catalonia are against by the way) showed a high degree of amateurism, naiveté and sheer ignorance.

  12. Jim
    October 2, 2017

    Meanwhile, back in the football world –

    Tragic For Rafinha with another operation. Nobody deserves bad luck like this.

    Can’t see Pique ever playing for the NT again despite him seeming to take the balanced view that many Spaniards abhorred what has happened so he’s prepared to continue. They just won’t let him. I reckon. He has come out of all this very well for me.

    I’m seeing the laughable notion put about that Barcelona could somehow end up playing in the EPL if independence is proclaimed. First, I have doubts it will be. The cold light of dawn has arrived and hard questions would have to be answered. Secondly, the notion of the EPL is absurd . I’ll tell you right now what they will say, the same as they did to Celtic. Sure you can join. But it’ll be in the Championship ( or worse) and you’ll have to play your way up. It’s a question of money and the teams ain’t gonna vote for anyone else to come in and grab their share of the TV money.

    Other leagues ? Well, difficult to know but Catalunya would be outside the EU and would have bigger problems to deal with than where Barca play. EU membership almost impossible anyway given the circumstances.

    Barto’s presser. Pretty much spot on in both content and tone for me. An impossible path for them however over the next few days/ weeks. Would like to crack Laporta’s head off something solid at the moment. Not sure he gives a toss for anything other than himself. It would suit him better to go away and do something else if he’s gonna pop up every two minutes with feigned indignation at every decision made. We need to pull together over the next while not try to widen every crack.

    Didn’t like to see Suarez ripping his jersey. I couldn’t see if it had been ripped before or if it was just in frustration at missing his chance. Worrying if the latter. He didn’t have a bad game by any standards, with one beautiful assist and another perfect ball for Messi’s head which should have been a goal. Should’ve hit the target at least with the last one but his runs and game all looked good to me. He ain’t getting rest anytime soon so he needs to get over it if it was frustration.

    Am I seeing a pattern with Valverde that if you have a bad game you are discarded pretty much on the spot ? Was sure we’d have seen Deulofeu/ Gomes start in one of the last couple of games. Deulofeu is gonna have to play soon given our lack of forwards so It’s not in our interests for Valverde to let him get downhearted.

    NT team break this time threatens to be mildly interesting with some Important games coming up . Scotland / Slovakia for one. 🙂

  13. luisthebeast
    October 2, 2017

    History is nt black and white.USSR invaded Afhganistan?Yes.Can i count in how many countries USA invaded and killed millions,so i believe they should never had the right to host Olympic games for all their crimes.
    But why S Union invaded there?Why USA helped extremists who after Soviets left,they became famous Taliban and ruled the country with violence?
    Lets not open this history here.

    • RealTimShady
      October 2, 2017

      While we’re on that, it was the 1980 summer games in Moscow that the USA led the boycott. ’84 in Los Angeles was the reciprocal Soviet Bloc boycott – the winter Olympics in ’80 (Lake Placid) and ’84 (Sarajevo) were unaffected by those particular boycotts.

      I’ll now proceed to leave the history closed (good idea).

  14. Ron
    October 3, 2017

    The shirt ripping incident was curious ..
    I watch the replays and it was after Suarez missed his chance that he ripped his shirt in frustration- Isn’t that a yellow card offence?? And i thought he was already on a yellow card before , so that is a very dangerous thing to do even if it was in the closing moments of the game.. He may be known for his temper but he has been doing a great job managing it till now..

    The whole Referendum thing is so stupidly handled by Spain though.. All they had to do was question the legality of the vote, and say that the voters themselves would have been biased towards independence, while those that would have voted no, probably just didn’t go to vote due to the circumstances which meant selection bias, now by sending police to deal with it has led to cases of brutality and it seems like such a stupid thing to do with media now clearly taking the side of the oppressed rather than the oppressors.

    I wonder what effect this will have on our club though.. would it be harder for us to attract spanish players for our B team and main team in the future? would we still come under UEFA/EU rules if catalonia gains independence?

    IF the unlikely case arises, I doubt the EPL would be the league we goto, the French league would be far easier to get into both in terms of convenience with Barca the city so close to France, and precedent with principalities like Monaco in the French League.
    Plus if I remember correctly the French Prime minister had said that he would ensure that Barca get into the French league if they just said the word, so there’s that…

  15. Jim
    October 5, 2017

    Don’t know if it’s the wine or not but as I sit here watching Scotland vs Slovakia from Hampden Slovaka get their forward, Mac, sent off for simulation, already being on a yellow ( great decision, btw ).

    Commentator, cool as you like says ” Well, at least there’s no Mac to put the knife into Scotland tonight “.

    I live for moments such as these . . .

  16. Jim
    October 5, 2017

    Yessss! Scotland win with 89th minute goal . All on last match against Slovenia away.

    In other news CAT radio reporting that Suarez has been playing with a cyst on his knee. Apparently, may need surgery. Don’t know anything about this injury but not good at the moment.

    Also in the category of not to my liking, for some reason the man down the road has, for some reason, started flying an Estelada. Sigh . . .

  17. Jim
    October 6, 2017

    And Iniesta signs lifetime contract with Barca ! Oh yes ( not that it was in doubt )

    Presser with Ini and Barto 1pm local time.

    🙂

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