Barça security staff force fans to throw away Tsunami protest banners
With thousands of protesters surrounding the stadium, Barcelona and Real Madrid players arrive safely at the ground escorted by police
Security staff at FC Barcelona's stadium have forced some fans entering the ground to throw away banners handed out by the Tsunami Democràtic protest group that read 'Spain, sit and talk,' as well as those featuring the face of Barça player, Leo Messi.
On Twitter, Tsunami Democràtic condemned the policy, which it described as "censorship," and asked the club and its president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, "where does that leave freedom of expression?"
For the group, which has called on fans to join the demands for dialogue with the Spanish authorities during the match with Real Madrid, not allowing the banners into the ground "contradicts" what the club had previously said "publically."
Catalan police deny any involvement
Sources in the Catalan police said they have nothing to do with preventing fans from entering the ground with the banners and the faces, saying it is the club's decision not to allow them in the stadium.
Earlier in the day, Tsunami Democràtic said it had 100,000 of the banners to hand out, with the aim that fans would take them into the ground and hold them up while the club anthem plays and until the match starts.
As for the faces, they make no reference to Tsunami Democràtic or the political situation. They show Messi's face with the Catalan flag and the slogan 'Únic al món, Força Barça' (Unique in the world, Come on Barça), and the player's six Ballon d'Or.
Players and officials arrive at stadium
With thousands of protesters surrounding the stadium in the hours before the 8pm kick off, the Barcelona and Real Madrid players arrived at the ground escorted by Mossos d'Esquadra Catalan police.
The players had spent the afternoon waiting in the nearby Hotel Sofia, before they boarded coaches and left for the stadium around 6pm. The officials who will oversee the match also arrived safely at the ground.