Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, on Saturday disclosed that Barca cannot be used by either side of a political battle over Catalonia’s drive to gain independence from Spain.
Barcelona have backed Catalonia’s right to self-determination, but refused to position themselves on either side of the independence debate.
“We are not an instrument to be manipulated for political interests, whatever they may be,” Bartomeu told club members at Barca’s annual general meeting. “Nobody can appropriate our badge or flag.”
Bartomeu took an unpopular decision to play Barcelona’s match against Las Palmas behind closed doors on October 1 as the referendum took place after La Liga refused to postpone the match.
The Barca president described that decision as “one of the hardest” he has made in his three years as president.
He, however, claimed Barca were not losing touch with their core Catalan fan-base.
“No one can doubt Barca’s commitment to the Catalan community. We defend the principles of democracy, the right to decide and free expression.”
Bartomeu condemned the imprisonment of two pro-independence civil society leaders Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart on charges of sedition.
“It is unacceptable that in this century there are people in prison for their political ideas.”