The dividing line between politics and sport was nearly invisible Sunday, as Barcelona and Las Palmas squared off in a La Liga match amidst unrest in Catalonia.
Barca wanted to postpone the game after police and government officials targeted protestors with shields, truncheons, and rubber bullets, battling those who wished to vote in what the Spanish government deemed an illegal referendum on Catalan independence.
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The Blaugranas closed the doors to their stadium, playing in front of a sea of empty Camp Nou seats in what was an odd sight.
Las Palmas wore Spanish flags on their shirts, while Barca issued a statement sympathetic to their home region of Catalonia. The scoreboard read “democracy” in a clear declaration of belief.
As for the match, Lionel Messi scored twice after Sergio Busquets buried an opening goal. Barca won 3-0 to maintain its five-point table lead on Sevilla, though almost no one was talking about the match.
That’s unfortunate on many levels, as Messi went Messi.