The current political situation in Spain led to extraordinary sporting scenes at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Arguably the most popular and fanatically supported football club in the world played a La Liga match featuring all their biggest stars in front of a totally empty stadium.
The chaos surrounding Catalonia’s independence referendum led to Barcelona voicing their protest at the harsh police crackdown by playing the match behind closed doors.
Barcelona considered postponing the match altogether, but ultimately decided not to risk a six-point penalty.
“We tried to suspend the game all day long but it wasn’t possible,” Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. “We could lose points if we didn’t play, so we decided to play behind closed doors as a way to show the entire world that we were not pleased with what happened.”
That led to unprecedented scenes, as the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez played a professional football match in a 99,000-seat stadium without a single supporter cheering them on.
Fans tried to get into the stadium but were barred from entering:
The action gets under way, but Camp Nou is a ghost town:
Players: check. Fans: Um…
Somehow, a pro-independence protester managed to get into the stadium, and onto the field:
Barcelona may be sympathetic to his cause, but he was quickly escorted off the field:
Messi scores, but not a single fan cheers:
A celebration with a difference: