3,000 security officers to be deployed for Barcelona Real Madrid clásico

Barça held informal talks with members of the pro-independence protest group through an intermediary

Barça fans throw yellow balloons onto the pitch at Camp Nou (courtesy of Reuters)
Barça fans throw yellow balloons onto the pitch at Camp Nou (courtesy of Reuters) / ACN

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

December 13, 2019 01:24 PM

A team of 3,000 security agents, made up of both Catalan police officers as well as private forces, will be deployed for Wednesday’s high-tension clash between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, with pro-independence protest group Tsunami Democràtic also convening thousands-strong protests for the day of the game. 

The home side had been in contact some members of Tsunami Democràtic, through the use of an intermediary. The club want to find an agreement with the protesters, who want to display banners reading "Spain: Sit and Talk" both in the stands of the stadium and on the pitch. 

Ultimately, the talks, held two weeks ago, failed and amounted to nothing. The club made a counter proposal to the protest group, that was deemed unsatisfactory. Up to now, the two parties have not tried contact again.

Always a heated affair, the clásico, pitting Catalonia against Madrid on the pitch, will have another layer of agitation in the air, as Tsunami Democràtic, who organised many high-profile protests against the sentencing of Catalan independence leaders to lengthy jail terms, have called for a "massive" mobilization of people to Barcelona for the game.

Since October 14’s Catalan Trial verdict, the group shut down much activity at Barcelona airport for a day, then blocked the motorway at the border between Catalonia and France for three days. 

Tsunami Democràtic have already announced their plans to convene four different groups of people at the four corners surrounding the grounds of the Camp Nou. They have already claimed that 18,000 protesters have confirmed their attendance at the demonstration. 

Media speculation leading up to the game has suggested that the protest group could try to block access to the stadium for fans or even officials, as well as a potential pitch invasion taking place. 

At a press conference on Friday ahead of December 18’s La Liga encounter, Eduard Sallent, the Catalan chief of police, explained that 1,000 of the deployed forces will be Mossos d’Esquadra, while 2,000 will be private agents.

The security deployment will make this match one of the most policed sporting events in Spain's history. Previously, the clásico in 2015 which fell shortly after the terrorist attacks in Paris, has 1,100 police officers and 1,400 private agents working at it. 

Last year at the Copa Libertadores final, played in Madrid after clashes in Buenos Aires, had roughly 2,000 police officers working at it, with an additional 1,700 private forces.

Sallent also said that they are preparing for a pitch invasion as the “worst possible scenario” that is “not probable but it is possible." If this were to happen, the spotlight would be on the private security, but the police would intervene if the situation became "especially serious" to arrest the perpetrators. 

Interior Minister Miquel Buch has “guaranteed” that the game will go ahead on Wednesday as planned, as this match was postponed from October 26, when the game could not be played for security fears, as a massive pro-independence demonstration was taking place in the Catalan capital on the same day and the requisite security forces were not available. 

The security operation will be divided into two phases, beginning first in the build-up to the game, in the surroundings of Camp Nou. Tsunami Democràtic have called on people to gather from 4 pm, while the game kicks off at 8 pm. The first objective of the security operation is to ensure the safe arrival of the refereeing team and the players’ team buses. 

Following this, focus will shift to the playing field and surrounding area when the game kicks off.