So it’s finally official.
After a few days of consultation, the Spanish football federation (RFEF) have made the decision to postpone the El Clasico fixture between Barcelona and Real Madrid, initially due to be played on Saturday, October 26.
The reason being given is that security of supporters cannot be guaranteed, even though the Catalan Police have given precisely that assurance.It’s Spanish football’s biggest game of the season, and many football watchers would suggest that it’s even the biggest club game in the world.
As such, any decision won’t have been taken lightly, but it has set a dangerous precedent.
The thousands of supporters that will have travelled from all over Spain and Europe now have to rearrange flights and accommodation – at cost to themselves – and given that their match tickets alone were a minimum of €179 apiece, they’d be forgiven for questioning their decision to go to a revised fixture.
At the time of writing, even the date for that hasn’t been decided yet, although two dates in December – 7 and 18 – have been mooted.
Given that they’re right on top of Christmas, we can expect that the cost of flights will be more astronomical than they would previously have been, ditto accommodation, potentially leading to a less than full stadium.
Clearly, ever since the Spanish government decided to jail Catalan politicians and activists for their part in the 2017 Catalan Independence vote, it was obvious that demonstrations would occur.
These have always been peaceful, although the large scale nature of the demonstrations happening right across Barcelona at the present time, have given ammo to the footballing authorities to suggest that things could get out of hand against Real Madrid.
If the fixture were against any other team, the likelihood of ‘trouble’ would be miniscule in comparison, but the way in which politics is intertwined with this fixture mean that it is a bit of a ticking time bomb so to speak.
With a worldwide audience in the billions, the Spanish government have probably done themselves a favour, given that the over the top actions of their own Police force doesn’t show them in a good light.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but some of the images coming out of Barcelona show the Spanish Police engaged in what can only be termed as legalised violence. Similar scenes occurred in the aftermath of the 2017 vote, and on that occasion Barcelona had to play Las Palmas behind closed doors.
It’s always been said that politics and football shouldn’t be allowed to mix, but with the RFEF unilaterally making this decision – (both clubs were against it) – that’s exactly what’s happened.