Espanyol president Joan Collet has criticised the local authorities for favouring Barcelona during Catalonia’s official ‘Diada’ national day celebrations on September 11.
The day also saw many protests in support of Catalan independence including a 'Via Catalana' human chain formed at 17:14 in the evening which saw a reported 1.4 million people join hands across symbolic spots in the city -- including the Plaza de Catalunya, la Rambla, Sagrada Familia, the Plaza de Sant Jaume, Barcelona beach and FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium.
The Espanyol chief said that his club felt sidelined by this decision, and suggested it would have been more inclusive to all the city’s football fans had the Olympic Stadium at Montjuic been chosen instead.
“At no moment did they ask us anything about Cornella", Collet said in Marca. “They told us that the part in the Camp Nou was to symbolise the world of sport. It could have been in Montjuic, a more neutral site.”
Barca vice-president Carles Villarubi responded by saying the Camp Nou was always open to anyone from Barcelona or Catalonia who wished to express their feelings.
“Our doors are always open, every day, to those Barceloneses and Catalans who want to express whatever they want to express with complete naturalness," Villarubi said in AS.
Catalan independence is a hot topic in both Barcelona and Madrid, and has been talked about with increasing seriousness during the current economic crisis in Spain. Barca have been criticised before for playing both sides of the debate -- assuring concerned sponsors and fans they would continue to play in Spain's Primera Division, while this season taking advantage of independence hopes by releasing a second strip featuring the colours of the Catalan ‘senyera’ flag.
A club statement on Wednesday showed how senior club figures took a full part in the day’s various ceremonies throughout the Catalan capital.
“Catalonia celebrates the National Day of Catalonia this Wednesday, September 11, with a series of events that started off with the traditional floral offering at the Rafael Casanova monument in Barcelona,” the statement said. “FC Barcelona was represented at the event by vice-presidents Carles Vilarrubi and Jordi Cardoner. The manager Tata Martino, who was accompanied by Gerard Piqué, experienced his first National Day of Catalonia. FC Barcelona was represented by vice-president Carles Vilarrubí and the directors Jordi Moix and Jordi Mestre at the commemorative event of September 11 organised by the Generalitat de Catalunya and the Catalan Parliament at the Cascada del Parque of the Ciutadella.”
Espanyol had previously been upset at Barcelona’s municipal authorities appearing to favour FCB, when the city’s iconic Christopher Columbus statue was draped in a Barca shirt as part of a promotion of its new red and yellow ‘senyera’ jersey last May.