Friday, March 20, 2009

Barcelona Council Breathes Sigh of Relief After Champions Draw

Today's midday draw in Nyon in Switzerland has seen Barcelona draw German side Bayern Munich and the authorities at the council will breathe a sigh of relief - at least until the next round. Assuming Barcelona can beat Bayern, they will play either Liverpool or Chelsea in the semi-finals - both teams that have played in Barcelona in recent years.

Today's copy of La Vanguardia has a very large image of Celtic supporters (below)with the dramatic headline "Plan Antivándalos" (Anti-vandal plan). The article basically describes how the council had earmarked 3 zones of the city as the meeting point for the influx of supporters that will descend on the city next month - and the 3 zones depended on which team Barcelona were to draw.

The first area, dedicated to the "hooligans" as La Vangaurdia shamelessly and blatantly puts it, is the area in and around the Fira de Barcelona at the foot of Montjüic (away from the city centre) and would have been dedicated to Liverpool, Manchester Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal.
Shalke Fans at Maremagnum - Barcelona Sights
The second area, would be the area around Maremagnum and would have been dedicated to Villareal or Porto - a location recently used by Shalke (above image).

The final destination (used by Liverpool last time) is the beach area around the Olympic Village and is indeed where the Bayern fans will be encouraged to meet.

The article in La Vanguardia continues to detail how leaflets will be printed in German and handed out at the airport and other locations regarding the civic expectations, laws about public drinking, etc. All of this to avoid the, quote "lacerating images of a hooligan Plaça Catalunya in front of an impassive Guardia Urbana" in November 2007.

Now, I know that newspapers need to sell copies (more in the current climate) but what annoys me most about the situation, and the particular way in which the newspaper reports the preventative measures against any possible situations, is that everyone seems to have such a short memory.

The largest scale of public disorder, violence, vandalism and destruction of Vandalism at Placa Catalunya - credit 20minutos/Toni Garrigapublic property was caused on the 18th May 2006, BY BARCELONA'S OWN POPULATION. Not only were bus shelters and telephone booths absolutely demolished, public bins burned and pushed along streets, but shops such as Levis, Burger King, Springfield and Decathlon (to name but a few) were damaged and the Optician's at El Triangle was completely rooted in a scene usually reserved for a war zone or a Hollywood Movie.....and Barcelona WON!! The evening ended with 107 people wounded and 45 arrests.

Such was the scale of the violence and vandalism, that the council estimated the cost of the disturbances at 100,000 Euros. I personally remember the night, and couldn't believe how the crowd was allowed to run riot (the game wasn't even played in the city, but in Paris !). There was also considerable damage to the city's metro system and the service was even interrupted for a while. Objects were thrown into the mechanical escalators so that other users could not use the metro. The list goes on. And this is compared to a Scottish bloke taking a piss on the corner of Plaça Catalunya.

Barcelona sights - Football Fans in Barcelona
Funnily enough, I have searched the Internet for a good couple of hours in google images, amongst others, and have failed to find any images whatsoever of that night, save one from the above link from 20minutos. Suffice to say that there were hundreds of images to choose for today's article in La Vanguardia this morning, and they chose some Celtic fans drinking beer from a funnel (my apologies for the poor image taken from the Vanguardia website).

I think that the British football fans have a bad press, often rightly so (Germany 2006), but that the majority of times, this is caused by ignorance and a "tarnished with the brush" attitude by the local cops. I saw England vs Andorra in Barcelona when Steve McLaren was still at the realm, and the mossos literally beat the fans through the turnstiles with batons. Had my friend and I not intervened on various occasions in Spanish, there would have been some very bruised arses and ribs to say the least! And this was before kick off! and against a team outside their country!!

As always guys, I welcome comments. The last time I added a particularly controversial post I got a cheeky comment back so come on guys, let me know your thoughts - were you around at the time? Any anecdotes?!

Coming to Barcelona soon? Try renting Barcelona Apartments for a change - you'll be pleasantly surprised, I'm sure.


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