Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said Thursday he believes next weekend’s ‘El Clasico’ against Real Madrid will go ahead as planned at their Camp Nou stadium despite violent pro-separatist protests in Catalonia.
The Spanish football league (LFP) on Wednesday said it had asked the country’s football federation (RFEF) to move the October 26 fixture to Madrid after three days of large-scale demonstrations which have turned increasingly violent.
“There are still nine days before this game. For sure this week is a bit strange in Barcelona, but there is time. We have confidence in ourselves, in our people, to be able to play this game in our stadium,” Valverde said at a news conference.
“It’s true there were proposals to change the order, to play first at [Real’s ground] the Bernabeu, which didn’t convince us,” he added.
Valverde’s side travel to Eibar on Saturday and then face a trip to Slavia Prague in the Champions League next Wednesday.
“We would have to travel again, but it’s not just because of that, it’s also a question of respect for the fixture list for the fans,” Valverde added.
Both teams are opposed to switching around the venues for the Clasico. Another possibility reported in the Spanish press would be to postpone the match until a later date.
Protests have erupted across Catalonia after Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday issued heavy prison sentences of between nine and 13 years to Catalan separatist leaders convicted of sedition over the 2017 referendum and short-lived declaration of independence.
Scores of people have been hurt and dozens arrested in the past three nights of clashes between protesters and police in Barcelona and other Catalan cities.