October 24 – Placed in the most delicate of diplomatic situations, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club wishes to continue playing in La Liga even though it backs Catalonia’s drive for self-determination.
Bartomeu has previously hinted that Barca might break away and join another country’s league but speaking at the annual general meeting was clear about his preferred option.
“You can be sure that this board will always act in the club’s defence,” said Bartomeu. “We will never put the club nor its presence in any competition at risk. That’s why, to all the socios (members), I say that we want to continue playing in La Liga and, as of today, our participation (in La Liga) is guaranteed.
“It’s mutually beneficial for La Liga and Barcelona for that link to continue.”
Bartomeu reiterated the club’s call for “dialogue, respect and sport”, a phrase which they displayed on a giant banner before their recent Champions League victory over Olympiakos.
Barca have been caught in the political crossfire over independence and although Bartomeu has backed Catalonia’s campaign, he is trying to steer a diplomatic course.
“We are not an instrument to be manipulated for political interests, whatever they may be,” Bartomeu told club members. (But) “No one can doubt Barca’s commitment to the Catalan community.”
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]ball.com