FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique spoke to the press, fighting back tears as he spoke about an emotional day for the city and the entirety of Catalonia. "It has been a tough today,” he said after Barcelona’s 3-0 victory to an empty Camp Nou over UD Las Palmas.
"I am Catalan. I feel Catalan, today more than ever,” he said, almost crying. “I feel proud for the people of Catalonia.”
The game was played with no fans in attendance as a protest against the Spanish police’s actions towards people wanting to vote for the independence referendum, which the Spanish government declared illegal.
“The images of police brutality speak for themselves,” Pique said. “We live in a democracy. We have a voice.”
There had been rumors that the game would be postponed, but apparently, the Spanish league threatened a forfeit and a three point deduction, or even a months-long ban if that were to happen.
"The board tried to suspend the game, but it wasn't possible,” Pique said. “We debated it, but the club told us to play."
The defender was asked how he was able to concentrate on the match on such an emotional day. “I wanted to win,” he said, “but it was the least important thing today.”
“For a moment I couldn’t believe it, I thought they’d try stop the vote, but in a peaceful way. But it wasn’t like that. It was one of the worst decisions this country has made in the last 40 years. It only made Catalonia be more apart from Spain.”
The defender referenced the political repression Catalonia suffered under the Francisco Franco dictatorship and said “voting is right that everyone has. It should be defended."
Pique finished by saying: “The Catalan people deserve everything and more. The way they have protested, in such a peaceful way. May they continue to do it this way. Despite being incited, I hope they manifest themselves in a peaceful way.”
Here is the full interview: