Friday, May 15, 2009

Barcelona Football Riots

Spanish press and in particular the Barcelona news reporters (both printed and Televsion) are quick to point the finger at foreign football fans as the cause of the biggest problems. However, recent events in the city have caused a great deal of problems, too. Those of which the root is much closer to home.

Last weekend FC Barcelona had a home game against Villareal, a game which had Barcelona won would have seen them clinch the Spanish league title against near rivals and arch enemies Real Madrid in second place. This was also the Sunday of the Formula 1 Grand Prix and an expectant city had giant screens in Plaça Catalunya - the city's main square. In an enthralling match, with another red card (as in the Chelsea match), Barcelona threw away the lead to draw 3-3. Title celebrations would have to wait.

This did nothing however, to stop what has been seen to be a typical celebration in the city since the 2006 Champions League victory in Paris, and an onslaught in the city centre ensued with violence, damage to public property and public bins burned, etc. The city's subsidised bike hire - Bicing - suffered damage to the value of a massive 400,000 Euros. Local Police - the Mossos de Esquadra - have vowed to ensure that Bicing stations will be emptied for further possible disturbances during sporting events.

Disturbances at Plaça Catalunaya - Image rights rtve España

And so arrives last Wednesday night, Final of the Copa del Rey - FC Barcelona vs Atletic de Bilbao in Valencia's Mestalla stadium. Barcelona are victorious, beating the Basuqe rivals 4-1, and again the city sees disturbances until the early hours of the morning, including 50 arrests, and 1 man falling into a river and dying (outside of Barcelona in nearby Girona). Again, bottles were thrown, public property destroyed and bins were burned. Rubber bullets were used, and 33 Police officers needed treatment.

This weekend Barcelona play Mallorca away from home on Sunday, but victory could be theirs on Saturday if Real Madrid lose to Villereal - a possibility given the current form of both teams. Even if Barcelona don't win tomorrow, there are still some games left, too, making the league title almost a foregone conclusion. If this is the case, the city will again brace itself for some inevitable damage, with the worst yet to come.

On the 27th May in Rome, Barcelona and Manchester Utd will contest the final of this year's Champion's league final - assuming Barcelona win the league and after winning the Copa del Rey, they would be on course for an unprecedented triple - something no Spanish team has ever done before.

Comments welcome as always guys - Were you around this week during the disturbances? Anthing to report? Please feel free to leave a comment.

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kaz said...

So, is it true that there were riots in BCN last night? It was in the Australian newspaper this morning...

David Brydon said...

Hi Kaz, thanks for commenting. I'm afraid so - there were 119 arrests, 150 injured and around 3 hours of roiting. The police had taken preventative measures, and cordened off many sections of streets in and around Plaça Catalunya, but things still kicked off.
This afternoon there is to be a parade with the 3 cups at around 7, which usually ends at the stadium (same as 2006). Hopefully that will be more civil!

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