“It’s my free opinion,” says German Barça fan, denied access because of independence flag
Daniel Kahl, a German Barça fan, was not allowed to enter the stadium at the Copa del Rey final for carrying the ‘Estelada’
Barcelona (ACN)-. “There is no football for you today,” said the Spanish policeman to Daniel Kahl, a German Barça fan, after denying him access to the Copa del Rey final at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid. In an interview with the CNA, Kahl said that he thinks the reason for this “incomprehensible” reaction of the State forces was that he, as a foreigner, was carrying the Catalan independence flag, the so-called ‘Estelada’. Kahl also confirms that this is the first time this ever happened to him after traveling with the Estelada to football games “all over Europe”. “It’s my right to free expression of opinion,” the German football fan argued. Regarding the independence referendum in Catalonia, Kahl took also a clear stand. “I am from Germany, I know what democracy is. The best way to solve this conflict is by letting people vote,” he said.
Daniel Kahl is a German Barça fan, who spare no efforts to follow his favorite team to wherever it plays. “I fell in love with Barça when I was a kid. I saw Barça play on television and these red and yellow colors just got stuck in my mind,” Kahl explained in an interview with the CNA. Kahl became so much of a fan, that four years ago he even exchanged his hometown Berlin for Sant Boi de Llobregat, a town near Barcelona, “to be closer” to his favorite football team.
Besides German and English, Kahl speaks fluent Catalan. “I wanted to be prepared before moving,” Kahl said. Therefore, he decided to read a lot about Barça. “That’s when I realized that there is a local language and what Barça means for Catalans.” He also spoke with friends from Catalonia on several trips he had made to Barcelona during the last years, because he was interested “in the political situation”.
Kahl is a member of the FC Barcelona Fan club since 2001 and tries to see his favorite team play as often as possible. That’s why he didn’t mind the eight hour drive from Barcelona to Madrid to join the Copa del Rey final on 27 May. The championship final was contested between FC Barcelona and the Deportivo Alavés at the Vicente Calderon stadium in the Spanish capital.
According to Kahl, after arriving at the stadium entrance, Spanish police officers stopped him to “triple check” his small backpack. Besides the backpack, Kahl carried the ‘Estelada’, the Catalan independence flag, across his shoulders. The real problem for Kahl started though when he called out in German to his two compatriots, who had already entered the stadium, to wait for him. “The face of the policemen changed completely. Suddenly the whole atmosphere became really tense,” Kahl explained. More policemen came and he felt “fear”. “I didn’t want any problems, I’m not aggressive. I just wanted to go and see the football game,” Kahl assured.
"This is my opinion and I'm free to express it"
After taking Kahl’s ID card and checking his data carefully, they saw that “everything was O.K.” But, according to the German Barça fan, instead of letting him finally pass through and see the match, several policemen started to interrogate him with the same questions over and over again “Why are you carrying an Estelada?” “What does this flag mean to you?” “It’s just a flag,” Kahl answered in English, because his Spanish “is not so good”. As Kahl explained, he did not want to speak in Catalan, which he speaks better, to avoid further complications. “I asked for an English speaker to clear up the situation,” he said. But his request was not resolved. “I did not understand what was happening,” Kahl added.
Finally, a policeman “accompanied” Kahl by the arm outside the stadium. “I demanded explanations but didn’t receive any,” the Barça fan said. The policeman only answered that there was “no football” for him today, which Kahl considers a violation of his “right to free expression”.
Asked why he went as a German with an ‘Estelada’ to a Barça game in Madrid, Kahl pointed out that he has traveled with this flag all over Europe to follow his favorite football team and that he had never encountered any problems. “For me this is only an expression of opinion,” he stressed. Would he go to watch a Barça game again with the ‘Estelada’? “Without a doubt. This is my opinion and I am free to express it,” the German Barça fan declared.
As the Catalan lawyers’ organization ‘Drets’ (Rights) informed before the Copa del Rey final, carrying the independence flag to a football match is indeed legal in Spain. Already at the Copa del Rey in 2016 the authorities of the Autonomous Community of Madrid had tried to ban the flag from Calderon stadium, but a judge ruled in favor of bringing the flag. However, according to accounts on social media, at the Copa del Rey final this year Spanish policemen again confiscated the ‘Estelada’ from Barça followers at the entrance of the stadium. Such actions were criticized by the Catalan authorities.
Asked about the planned independence referendum in Catalonia, Daniel Kahl was convinced that the best way to solve “the difficult situation” between Catalonia and Spain was “by letting people vote”. “I am from Germany. I know what democracy is,” he said. And the referendum “is the most democratic” solution, Kahl concluded.