Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes Sunday's heavyweight clash against Real Madrid should be kept separate from Catalonia's push for independence from Spain.
Madrid: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique believes Sunday's heavyweight clash against Real Madrid should be kept separate from Catalonia's push for independence from Spain.
Story first published on: Saturday, 06 October 2012 23:46
The two giants of Spanish football meet in La Liga's first 'Clasico' of the season at Barcelona's Camp Nou on Sunday at a time when relations between the government in Madrid and Catalonia are particularly tense.
Just over three weeks ago, more than a million people demonstrated in the streets of Barcelona in favour of independence for Catalonia.
"The games between Barcelona and Madrid increasingly resemble Catalonia against Spain and and this should not happen," wrote Pique on Twitter on Saturday.
"It's just a football match."
Sunday's highly-charged atmosphere will be ratcheted up after Barcelona officials agreed to allow the yellow and red colours of Catalonia to be displayed on a giant mosaic, formed by fans holding up cards, inside the stadium.
Adding to the tension will be the chants for independence roared out by the 98,000-strong crowd at 17 minutes and 14 seconds into the match, in reference to the Catalans' military defeat in the War of Spanish Succession in the year 1714.
On Friday, Pique's team-mate Xavi praised his club's decision to allow fans to show the Catalan flag before the match, but played down the political context surrounding the game.
"Barca represent Catalonia, so I find that logical, normal and very good," said the Spain international midfielder.
"But it's only a football match and nothing political."