Barça and UEFA agree to allow pro-independence flags at Camp Nou
Barcelona (CNA).- FC Barcelona and UEFA have reached an agreement that solves the controversy over the sanctions against the Catalan club for displaying ‘estelades’ at the Camp Nou during two matches of the Champions League last year. The agreement stipulates that Barça will retract the appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) over the sanctions imposed on the club. For its part, UEFA announced its commitment to reviewing the disciplinary rules on political symbols and setting up a working group in a bid to ensure that any future punishments are more flexible and not perceived as unfair. In a statement, UEFA said it is “happy” about the withdrawal of the appeal to the CAS for the fines imposed on Barça and admitted that the rules on the display of symbols “are not set in stone”. “They can and should evolve to reflect the nature of the society”, said the international body.
In the same statement UEFA “appreciates” that Barça “has recognised” the “presently little scope” for disciplinary bodies to depart from the established rules. This small room for manoeuvre, according to UEFA, also affects “existing prohibition of political type messages at football matches”.
While UEFA insists that matches cannot “be used for the purposes of political demonstrations”, it also stated that it has “no wish to sanction any club or national association in situations where no reasonable person could object to, or be offended by, a particular message conveyed at a football match”.
In this regard, UEFA is “happy to re-examine the precise scope of its existing disciplinary regulations”, in order to ensure that, if and when any sanction is to be imposed, “this only happens in circumstances and cases where the majority of reasonable people think that a sanction should be imposed”.
Anna Bordiugova’s complaint
The conflict between UEFA and Barça began in the Champions League final in Berlin last year when a Ukrainian UEFA delegate, Anna Bordiugova, who was not in the Olympic Stadium, denounced the exhibition of 'estelades' after watching the game on television.
Following the complaint from Bordiugova, UEFA issued a €30,000 fine to the club.
The second complaint came after the match against Leverkusen at the Camp Nou, on the 29th of September 2015. That fine climbed to €40,000 for the display of Catalan independence flags. In total, the penalties have amounted to €150,000 after the two new complaints following the matches against BATE Borisov and AC Roma last season.
Barça explained that regarding these two pending cases, UEFA and the club will follow a “special” procedure to resolve them by mutual agreement and with the “least possible cost” for the club.
The FC Barcelona board viewed the agreement “very positively” because it “means the end” of a conflict and the “recognition” of the right to freedom of expression for their members and fans.