Madrid, Oct 13 (IANS) Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo has made an appeal for calm ahead of his side’s football game at home to FC Barcelona on Saturday night.
The atmosphere around the game has been affected by the ongoing crisis over the Catalan region of Spain and with Barcelona the most representative club of the independence seeking region, feelings are likely to run high in the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium, reports Xinhua news agency.
Barcelona publicly supported the October 1 Catalan independence referendum, which was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court, although — like central defender Gerard Pique, who has also been vocal in his defence of the right to vote — it neither supported a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote.
Nevertheless, with pro-Spain sentiment also rising sharply as a result of the crisis, it promises to be a hostile atmosphere in the Wanda; something Cerezo tried to calm in an interview on Spanish radio.
He said that Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu would participate in the traditional pre-game lunch between directors, adding: “I think our fans know that politics is one thing and a game of football is something else.”
“I want the game against Barcelona to be played in the same sporting spirit as always and what happens is not a political demonstration,” added the Atletico President, who reminded Atletico fans their side had won the league title in Barca’s ground just over three years ago.
“Everyone in the ground applauded us for that and is something we should not forget,” he said.
In sporting terms, Barca travel to the Wanda looking to stretch their winning start to the season to eight league games and will look to Leo Messi, who was once again brilliant when he guided Argentina to the World Cup final with a win in Ecuador at the start of the week.