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UEFA fines FC Barcelona for supporters' Catalan independence flags at Champions League final

UEFA's Disciplinary Committee has decided to issue FC Barcelona, the current champions of Europe, with a €30,000 fine due to the Catalan independence flags displayed and the songs sung by its supporters during May's Champions League final in Berlin. Despite UEFA representatives present at the final having praised the "excellent behaviour" of the Catalan supporters during the game in their official report, the Disciplinary Committee acted after a complaint was filed at a later stage by a Ukrainian lawyer based on the TV broadcast. UEFA condemns "the use of gestures, words […] to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature" in its Disciplinary Regulations.

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23 July 2015 09:25 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- UEFA's Disciplinary Committee has decided to issue FC Barcelona, the current champions of Europe, with a €30,000 fine due to the Catalan independence flags displayed and the songs sung by its supporters during May's Champions League final in Berlin. The fine has been issued because UEFA officially condemns "the use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature" in Article 16.2 of its Disciplinary Regulations. The case was opened in June and FC Barcelona appealed, stressing the fact they had not given any instruction to their supporters about which flags they should show and that the supporters are individual citizens using their freedom of expression, with flags and banners that are neither violent nor discriminate against anyone.


Despite UEFA representatives present at the final having praised the "excellent behaviour" of the Catalan supporters during the game in their official report after the final written by Dutchman Harry M. Been, the Disciplinary Committee opened an investigation after a complaint was filed at a later stage based on TV images broadcast. However, in UEFA's official report on the final, Been stressed that no discriminatory banners had been displayed nor any discriminatory chants sung during the game by FC Barcelona supporters, adding that no violent events were registered. However, according to newspaper 'La Vanguardia', the Ukrainian lawyer Anna Bordiugova, who is a member of the disciplinary inspector corps of UEFA, filed the complained to the body chaired by Cypriot Chris Georghiades.

The case was opened in June and the initial fine proposed could have been up to €60,000 and could have included the closing of certain parts of the Camp Nou Stadium during at least one Champions League game. The Catalan club appealed against this potential sanction but in the end UEFA decided that Catalan independence flags and songs were unacceptable, despite them representing a fully democratic idea, supported through peaceful and festive means. Ultimately UEFA decided that FC Barcelona was somehow responsible for the flags and songs, but issued a smaller fine than initially foreseen.

Article 16.1 of UEFA’s Disciplinary Regulations states: "Host associations and clubs are responsible for order and security both inside and around the stadium before, during and after matches. They are liable for incidents of any kind and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives unless they can prove that they have not been negligent in any way in the organisation of the match". The Champions League final took place on the 6th of June in Berlin, and was organised by UEFA, which was the hosting organisation in charge of security during the game. However, the fine is aimed only at FC Barcelona and not at UEFA itself for having failed to prevent individuals with Catalan independence flags accessing the ground and having not been able to prevent them from singing pro-independence songs.

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  • Barça supporters in Berlin's Olympic Stadium (by FC Barcelona)

  • Barça supporters in Berlin's Olympic Stadium (by FC Barcelona)