BARCELONA: FC Barcelona's decision to play a home La Liga match against Las Palmas behind closed doors amid unrest surrounding the banned referendum on Catalan independence was the most responsible choice available, the club president said.
"I must say that this was one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make as Barça president," Josep Maria Bartomeu told a press conference on Monday, reports Efe news agency.
He said that while the club initially wanted to postpone Sunday's match, the Spanish soccer federation vetoed the proposal and told Barcelona they would be penalized 6 points in the standings if the game did not take place as scheduled.
"Having reached that point, I decided to play behind closed doors because we believed that the image of a football match being played in a completely empty Camp Nou would have been an act of responsibility and would have been a way of showing how we utterly reject the exceptional and inadmissible situation going on around Catalonia," Bartomeu said.
The club president said he consulted coach Ernesto Valverde and team captain Andres Iniesta before making the decision.
Though the match officials gave security concerns as the reason for closing the doors, Bartomeu said Catalonia's regional police force assured club management that the game could take place without incident.
Two board members who had wanted the match postponed resigned, the club president said.