Madrid’s President demands playing the Cup Final without an audience to avoid supporters booing Spanish anthem

Esperanza Aguirre, one of the main representative from Spanish Nationalism, has asked to postpone the game or playing it in an empty stadium in order to avoid supporters whistling and booing the Spanish National anthem and Prince Felipe, as was the case in 2009. This season’s Spanish Cup Final will be decided in Madrid between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club of Bilbao, a Catalan and a Basque team. Catalan politicians have criticised Aguirre for mixing football and politics. CiU and the PSC have coincided in pointing out that Aguirre is ready to talk about the Cup Final but not about Madrid’s public deficit deviation. Besides, an extreme-right demonstration in Madrid organised on the same day has been authorised.


May 23, 2012 08:31 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Esperanza Aguirre, President of Madrid’s Regional Government and one of the main representatives of Spanish Nationalism, has caused controversy by asking to postpone the Spanish Cup Final or to play it in an empty stadium in order to avoid some supporters whistling and booing the Spanish National anthem and Prince Felipe (who will substitute his father –King Juan Carlos- at the event). This season’s Final is to be played on Friday in Atlético Madrid’s stadium between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club of Bilbao. The Catalan and the Basque football teams will repeat the 2009 Spanish Cup Final, played at València’s Mestalla. Three years ago, some Barça and Athletic supporters at Mestalla whistled when the King of Spain entered the stadium and the Spanish anthem was playing, and some others turned their backs. Esperanza Aguirre, who is the leader of the People’s Party (PP) in Madrid, stated on Tuesday that “insults to the flag, the anthem or the Head of State, which are a felony described in the Penal Code, cannot be tolerated”. According to Aguirre, if supporters whistle once again, “the match should be suspended” and should take place “another day in an empty stadium”. Aguirre has been joined in her demands by other representatives of Spanish Nationalism, such as Rosa Díez, the leader of the populist party ‘Unión, Progreso y Democracia’ (UPyD). In addition, on Tuesday, Madrid’s Supreme Court dealt with an appeal by La Falange, Franco’s Fascist party (which is legal is Spain), and has authorised an extreme-right demonstration in Madrid coinciding with the final. In Catalonia, Aguirre’s words have caused general surprise. The two main political parties, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), have both said that Aguirre was talking about the Final but she was not talking about the 2011 public deficit figures of the government she chairs, which are double the figures presented months ago. In addition, the platform supporting Catalonia’s official sports team have said that they have not asked supporters to whistle when Spanish national anthem is played.

The platform supporting Catalan teams have asked for the recognition of other national selections within Spain, other than the Spanish, as is the case in the United Kingdom, where England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own selections. The platform said the vindication should be made in a peaceful and “positive way”, with chants and banners. In addition, they have asked for respect to any “national symbol”, being their own or someone else’s.Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalist parties (BNG, ICV, ERC, CiU, and Amaiur) had also supported this vindication. Their aim is that the match against FC Barcelona and Atheltic Club becomes a “sports party”, “supporting the Catalan and Basque selections, and their international recognition”.

Reactions within the PP

Aguirre’s words have not been shared by other members of the People’s Party. The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said that football and politics should not be mixed. Besides, Jesús Posada, the President of the Spanish Parliament, stated that if made in a peaceful all sorts of claims should be accepted, “even the separatist”.

Reactions from Catalan parties

Albert Soler, from the PSC, accused Aguirre of using the Spanish Cup Final as a scapegoat for its deficit. He also asked not to mix politics and football. Soler defended that “everybody should be entitled to demonstrate ”.

Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, CiU’s Spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament, stated that “it is out of place” that “a Real Madrid hooligan” talk about the Final, instead of taking care of her government’s deficit. From the same coalition, Felip Puig, the Catalan Minsiter for Home Affairs, said that the match will be an occasion to “witness a great pluri-national spectacle”.

Joan Coscubiela, ICV’s Spokesperson in the Spanish Parliament, accused Aguirre to be talking about the Final in order to avoid giving explanations about Bankia, which was built around Caja Madrid, controlled by Madrid’s Regional Government.

Reaction from the Basque Independence Party

Mikel Errekondo, from the Left-Wing Basque Independence Party ‘Amaiur’, said that the Barça and Athletic supporters will express at the Final “whatever they feel”. In addition, he said that politicians will have to draw their own conclusions if something happens.