Barca joins Catalonia strike, Pique jeered

Oct 2, 2017 - 8:53 PM La Liga soccer powerhouse Barcelona are joining a strike to protest against the Spanish government's actions in Catalonia's independence vote.

Barcelona said none of their professional or youth teams will practice on Tuesday, and the club headquarters will be closed as a reaction to government attempts to stop the referendum on Sunday. Officials said more than 890 civilians and some 430 members of the police force were injured.

Girona also suspended practice on Tuesday, and Espanyol, the other Catalan club in the Spanish league, will have their players undergo physical activities behind closed doors at their training camp.

Meantime, outspoken Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was jeered by spectators at Spain's training camp in Madrid on Monday.

Pique, who supported the referendum, was booed constantly as Spain practised. He endured chants, sometimes laced with expletives, of "Spain is your nation." Some held cards against him, including one that read "Out Pique." Policed deemed one of the cards too offensive and removed it.

Pique is often jeered by fans when Spain plays outside of Catalonia.

He was in tears on Sunday after the Spanish league game against Las Palmas as he talked about confrontations between Catalan voters and police, who used batons and fired rubber bullets to try and stop voters across the northeastern region. He criticised police again on Monday on Twitter.

Pique said after on Sunday that if the national team considered him a nuisance, he would have no problem stepping aside. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has previously defended Pique when the player's loyalty to Spain has been questioned.

Spain is preparing for World Cup qualifiers, the next on Friday against Albania in the southeastern city of Alicante.

Barcelona tried to postpone their home match on Sunday during the referendum but the league denied the request, so they closed Camp Nou to spectators to send a protest message and avoid losing points and being sanctioned. Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0.

Source: AAP

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