OT: Pro soccer match in Spain, attendance zero

In a 98,000 seat stadium, yet. This isn’t during warmups; it’s the middle of the match:

No, it doesn’t mean that the Spanish now hate soccer. It’s another intersection of sports and politics. FC Barcelona may be the best soccer team in the world. It is also located in the Catalonia region, which is seeking independence from the rest of Spain. Catalonia held a referendum today on independence, a vote which was regarded as illegal by the national government in Madrid. FCB wanted to postpone today’s home match, fearing violence between separatists and nationalists (which indeed happened outside the stadium), but La Liga officials told them a postponement would cost them both a forfeit and a three-point deduction, in essence the loss of two games. As good as FCB is, they’re not going to throw away two games in a tough league. So Barcelona decided to play behind locked doors, and won the match 3-0. The largest stadium in Europe, completely empty.

Several Barcelona players were in tears after the match; at least one acknowledged that he had voted in favor of independence. That player, Gerard Pique, also plays on the Spanish national team. He said if the Spanish federation thought his vote should disqualify him from playing for Spain, so be it.