FC Barcelona face a partial stadium closure over the use of pro-Catalan independence flags during their Champions League final win against Juventus last month as UEFA open disciplinary proceeding.

 

During the 3-1 win over Juventus in the Champions League final in Berlin on June 6, FC Barcelona supporters displayed red and yellow Catalan separatist flags from the stands and chanted slogans in favor of independence for the wealthy northeastern region of Spain that is embroiled in political turmoil from a long time and heightened during the days of general Franco.

UEFA rules band the use of “symbols, actions of songs that are not within the context of a sports event, especially messages of a political, ideological, religious, offensive and provocative nature.”

“A disciplinary proceeding has been opened against FC Barcelona for illicit banner use and chanting,” a UEFA spokesman told AFP in an e-mail.

“The case will be decided during the next control, ethics and disciplinary meeting on July 23,” he added.

Barcelona face a stiff fine and partial stadium closure if found to have violated UEFA rules during the final.

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The club will appeal UEFA’s decision, citing respect for freedom of expression of its supporters, a club spokesman said.

Barcelona has historically had close ties with Catalan nationalism, that led to it’s fierce rivalry with Real Madrid, the club FC Barcelona fans allege were the dictator General Franco backed team who carried out a lot of atrocities against Catalonia.

FC Barcelona backed a symbolic independence referendum organised in November by the regional government of Catalonia, which was fiercely opposed by the central government in Madrid.

During FC Barcelona’s 3-1 King Cup final win over Athletic Bilbao on May 30, supporters from both teams jeered while Spain’s national anthem was played before the start of the game.

After the match, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office issued a statement condemning “attacks against symbols that represent all Spaniards”.

Athletic Bilbao is based in Spain’s northern Basque County which like Catalonia has an active independence movement.