This is Josep Maria Bartomeu's speech after Barcelona's board meeting on Monday, explaining the events of October 1.
"I am appearing today following an extraordinary meeting this midday of the Board of Directors. You know that it was scheduled for tomorrow Tuesday. But we decided to bring it forward because of the exceptional situation affecting the country and consequently our club.
First of all, I would like to reiterate FC Barcelona’s position regarding the situation happening in Catalonia.
We remind you that in recent years we have signed up to the National Agreement on the Right to Decide and the Referendum Agreement. We have also made a decided effort for the right to the freedom of expression to be fully exercised at the Camp Nou.
Last September 20, following the searches of Government of Catalonia buildings and the ensuing arrests, we condemned any action that might prevent the fully lawful exercise of the right to the freedom of expression and the right to decide. And we manifested our support for all persons, entities and institutions that work to guarantee these rights. Always siding with the majority of the Catalan people, and with the utmost respect for the plurality of our membership.
On the same lines, yesterday we expressed our rejection and vehement condemnation of the serious events that we experienced our country, with abusive and indiscriminate use of force to prevent millions of people from exercising the right to vote.
In this context, here at FC Barcelona we decided that we had to take some kind of measure to show our indignation to the world. There were many matters at stake and we discussed these with the different departments of the club: directors, executive, coaches and players. I finally decided that we would play the game, but as an exceptional measure, behind closed doors.
We perfectly understand that many of our members and fans would have preferred the option of calling off the match. That is why I must say that this was one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make as Barça president. We very seriously considered the option of postponing the game, but we could not get the Professional Football League to approve our request.
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.
Today we know that the match broadcast was seen in 174 countries around the world, with millions of people observing the extraordinary nature of the game and leading international media explaining the reasons for such a unique situation in the Camp Nou.
From the Board of Directors, we regret any inconvenience that this decision may have caused our members, supporters’ club members and fans and we thank you for your understanding.
Today the Board of Directors has accepted the resignations of vice-president Carles Vilarrubí and the commissioner of the Barça Innovation Hub, Jordi Monés. We thank both of them for their dedication during all their years of service to the club.
On another matter, the Board of Directors has decided to support the call for strike action tomorrow led by the Taula per la Democràcia (Democracy Board). The club shall cease all activities for the whole day and none of the professionals or amateur teams will train at the Ciutat Esportiva.
At such a transcendental moment in our history, FC Barcelona reasserts its commitment to freedom and to the people of Catalonia. What we witnessed in our country yesterday was inadmissible. We demand respect for the people of Catalonia and we shall once again stand alongside its legitimate representatives. We Catalans have won the right to be heard. As one of the leading entities in the country, we are appealing for political solutions to be found, in full respect for the people’s wishes.
In our position as a club of such global scope, we shall continue to tell the world about the reality of what’s happening in our country and our commitment to its people and their freedoms, a commitment to which the club has remained faithful throughout its 118 years of history. We shall be making use of our presence on international sporting bodies and shall take every opportunity we have to do so. To end, we would like to express our solidarity with all the anonymous citizens who yesterday stood up for something so valuable as is our democracy. Here at Barça we also stand beside the 893 people that were victims of these aggressions, and wish them a rapid and complete recovery.
Visca el Barça and Visca Catalunya."