The La Liga Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid, originally scheduled for Oct. 26, has been postponed to a date in December due to the growing social unrest in Catalonia.
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)’s Competition Committee has requested the two clubs agree on a new date by 10 a.m. CET on Monday, and if one isn’t agreed, the committee will make the final decision.
The statement released by the Spanish FA also ruled out the original proposal from La Liga to play the game at the Santiago Bernabeu because swapping the fixtures is not in their regulations.
Barca expressed their belief that the game could have gone ahead next weekend in a statement released after the Competition Committee’s decision. However, they have put forward Dec. 18 as their preference for when the fixture should now be played.
“The club’s desire would have been to play the game on Oct. 26 as planned,” they said. “The Club has the utmost confidence in the civic and pacific attitude of its members and fans who always express themselves in exemplary fashion at Camp Nou.
“Nevertheless, having received the decision to postpone the game due to ‘exceptional circumstances,’ and given that it falls on the clubs to agree a new date for the game before Monday, the club will propose Dec. 18.
“The club regrets the inconvenience that this postponement may cause to members, supporters’ club members and fans. It has now begun the necessary steps to refund money for tickets already purchased.”
A demonstration is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Barcelona following the imprisonment of nine separatist leaders for their roles in the failed 2017 push for independence, and the Spanish football federation, in consultation with government officials, said on Thursday it wasn’t safe to play on the same day of the rally.
La Liga has now proposed moving the game to Saturday Dec. 7, which would mean the teams’ matches already scheduled for that weekend (Real Madrid vs. Espanyol and Barcelona vs. Mallorca) would have to be moved.
Meanwhile, the Spanish FA is proposing moving the game to Wednesday Dec. 18, but La Liga president Javier Tebas is against it as there are Copa del Rey commitments on that day.
In addition, the league does not want the game to be played midweek because it could hurt television rights holders. The Oct. 26 match was scheduled for a 1 p.m. CET kickoff time, which favours the important Asia market.
Earlier this week, La Liga requested the Spanish football association switch the encounter from the Camp Nou to the Bernabeu, with the second league Clasico of the season to be played at Barcelona’s ground on March 1, 2020.
The competition committee of the RFEF turned down La Liga’s proposal, however, instead ruling the postponement of the encounter “for circumstances beyond its control.”
Both Real Madrid and Barca were also reluctant to agree to La Liga’s request of a change of venue, with the capital side having believed it would affect the nature of the game, and the Catalan club’s coach Ernesto Valverde having said he wanted the fixture to go ahead at Camp Nou as initially planned.
“This game can perfectly take place — it’s a good opportunity to play it as normal,” he said Thursday. “It’s a good opportunity to do so against all those that are pessimistic.
“[Oct. 26] is the date it was set. This is my opinion, but I don’t know what decision the [competition committee of the Spanish FA]will take.
“There are nine days left to play, and the normal thing would be to play in our stadium. If you told me the game was today or tomorrow, then fine. But we still have time. It is an important game for people to see. It should be played under normal circumstances.
“We would go into the game having one day less to rest than Real Madrid, so I guess if you look at it that way, it would be us [to suffer]. However, in these type of games that is not that important, as players are always ready to play these games.”
The anti-violence committee has declared the match “high risk,” although federation officials said that is a common designation for matches of the calibre of the Clasico, which is the biggest event on the La Liga calendar.
Spain’s interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, appealed Thursday for calm after reporting that 97 people have been arrested since Monday and 194 officers hurt as a result of the escalating violence on the streets of Catalonia.
Barca have postponed all institutional events scheduled for this week, a club source told ESPN FC on Thursday, while their travel plans for the clash with Eibar on Saturday have been seriously affected.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.