After UEFA issued a fine to Barcelona for fans waving Catalan independence flags at a match last month, separatist groups are planning to protest the ruling by circulating 30,000 flags amongst FC Barcelona supporters on Wednesday´s Champions League game at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona face BATE Borisov is a match which could see Luis Suarez overtake Diego Maradona and Romario in the club´s list of all time goal scorers but Catalans and UEFA will also be watching the stands with interest.
Around 300 pro independence volunteers will distribute the flags at Camp Nou and ask fans to show them at the game.
Jordi Sanchez, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, an organisation campaigning for Catalonia’s secession from Spain said, “Nobody can tell us where and when we, Catalans, can show our symbols.”
UEFA fined FC Barcelona €40,000 for a display of independence flags at the club´s 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in October. Earlier, in May, Barca was fined €30,000 for another flag showing at the Champions League final where they beat Juventus in Berlin.
UEFA maintains that the flag is a violation of their regulations which ban “the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu however has vowed to take UEFA to court over the fines which he says interferes with the fans’ right to free speech.