On Wednesday, December 18, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet for the first clásico of the season, an eagerly awaited tie with both teams neck-and-neck at the summit of the table. As protest group Tsunami Democràtic announce plans to surround the Camp Nou stadium with thousands of demonstrators four hours before kick-off, some media are suggesting that the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation) does not discount the possibility of moving the match to a neutral venue, less than a week before the game.
In a three-paragraph statement the football federation released on Wednesday, they underlined that they had no sway over the security measures of the day, however they also confirmed that they are in contact with the police forces to ensure the safe arrival of the refereeing team “according to the established protocols.”
This match was originally scheduled to be played on October 26, but was postponed due to security fears and the lack of available security staff to work at the game, as a massive pro-independence protest had already been scheduled for that day. The original date for the game fell just days after the release of the verdict of the Catalan Trial, which saw nine pro-independence politicians and activists sentenced to prison terms of 9-13 years, sparking weeks of unrest and riots.
Tsunami Democràtic, the protest group behind the shutting down of activity at the Barcelona airport on the day of the release of the verdict and the three-day road block of the motorway at the French border, published a few weeks ago already that they had planned some sort of action on the rearranged clásico. The group requested to FC Barcelona and Real Madrid to show a message reading “Spain: Sit and Talk” in the stands and on the pitch, but the clubs did not agree to this.
Now, a week ahead of the game, media outlets are speculating on what kind of action Tsunami Democràtic are planning, and whether or not they could prevent the game from going ahead at all. For their part, the protest group assures they do not plan on stopping the match from taking place, as they reiterate that they only want to show a message urging dialogue between the governments of Spain and Catalonia. In their most recent communications to subscribers, however, Tsunami say they “guarantee” the message of ‘Spain: Sit and Talk’ would be seen at the game.
Blocking stadium accesses
Some of the rumours that are worrying security and organizers is the possibility of protesters surrounding the vehicles bringing players or officials to the game. Obvious targets would be the team bus of Real Madrid, as they make their way from their hotel to the stadium, as well as the car bringing the team of referees to the ground. Radio station Cadena Cope claim that authorities are contemplating what to do if Zinedine Zidane’s team are unable to reach the Camp Nou stadium.
Another concern being studied is the chances of a group of fans entering the ground and chaining themselves to one or both of the goalposts. The fourth scenario being studied is the possibility of a larger group of fans invading the pitch and bringing play to a halt, even if temporarily.
Display in stands
Perhaps the easiest way Tsunami Democràtic can make their message visible within the stadium is by staging some sort of performance or displaying some sort of banner in the stands. The group has already called on any demonstrators with match tickets to communicate so via internal channels, and unveiling signs or balloons at a coordinated time would be feasible.
Security forces are also worried about some sort of altercation breaking out outside the stadium. Authorities are planning ahead over what action to take if there are serious incidents, such as possibly any injuries happening.