League wants to move Barcelona-Madrid game to avoid protests

Sports

FILE – In this March 2, 2019 file photo, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, left, goes head to head with Real defender Sergio Ramos as they argue during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid. The Spanish football league on Wednesday Oct. 16. 2019, has asked the Spanish football federation to change the location of the match between Barcelona and Real Madrid to avoid it coinciding with plans for a separatist rally. The league wants the federation to shift the match to Madrid. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)

MADRID (AP) — The Spanish soccer league wants Barcelona’s game against Real Madrid to be moved out of the Catalan capital to avoid coinciding with a planned separatist rally.

Separatist groups in Catalonia have called for supporters to rally in Barcelona on Oct. 26 when Barcelona is scheduled to host Madrid in the “clásico” match.

The league runs the top two tiers of Spanish soccer. It has called on the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) — which controls regulations and fixtures for professional and amateur games — to shift the match to Madrid. The league has also requested for the return match to be switched from Madrid to Barcelona.

The league said Wednesday it has “requested the competitions committee of the RFEF to meet and change the location of El Clásico because of exceptional circumstances beyond our control.”

Catalonia has seen violent protests for the last two days with police clashing with protesters angered by the Supreme Court’s decision to sentence nine separatist leaders to prison.

The federation said the clubs have until Monday to respond to the request to change venues.

Catalan independence flags are a regular feature at Barcelona’s home games at the Camp Nou Stadium.

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