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Javier Tebas: “Whistling the Anthem is Violence, Verbal Violence”

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La Liga’s president has taken a tough stance against the practice

SPORTel Asia Photo by Sean Lee/Getty Images

La Liga President Javier Tebas has denounced the practice of whistling during the Spanish national anthem as “violence” or more specifically, “verbal violence.” The Spanish national anthem is sometimes whistled when it’s played before games, particularly by fans who support independence movements such as the Catalan and Basque independence movements.

Whistling during the Copa del Rey final is seen as especially egregious by some, as the cup is named after the king of Spain. Barcelona are set to play Sevilla to see who lifts the cup.

Tebas compared whistling the national anthem to saying “puta cataluña” (“f—- Catalonia”), saying both were not part of free expression, but rather disrespectful, and even rising to the level of “verbal violence.”

“The psychological damage that is done is the same as when people say puta cataluña and it hurts all Catalans. For me, it is the same,” Tebas said.

Tebas said whistling a player is not the same since it was just a reproach to bad sporting conduct, but whistling the anthem was an insult to a symbol of a nation.

Barcelona has taken a neutral stance towards whistling, saying it falls under the right of self expression for fans. Tebas said that while he respects the club’s opinion, he does not share it.

Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu recently said that fans “express themselves by whistling,” and that “they have not done so to insult any symbol, but to protest certain attitudes against the Catalan people in the last few years.”