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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Barcelona warned of Camp Nou closure if fans found guilty of insulting chants

Meanwhile Suarez cleared fit for Catalonian club's Primera Liga trip to Leganes

Supporters hold 'Estelada', the pro-independence Catalan flag, during a game at Camp Nou this month. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo
Supporters hold 'Estelada', the pro-independence Catalan flag, during a game at Camp Nou this month. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo

Barcelona's Nou Camp stadium could be temporarily closed if supporters are found guilty of using insulting chants about Spain, Primera Liga president Javier Tebas has warned.

Speaking at an event in Seville on Friday, Tebas confirmed that pro-Catalonia independence gestures were not a punishable act but said that offensive chants about the likes of Spain and its regions could be.

Tebas said in quotes reported by El Mundo Deportivo: "Chants about independence, right now, are not considered an insult nor inciting violence. But shouts such as '[expletive] Spain', '[expletive] Catalonia', '[expletive] Andalusia' or similar have been denounced.

"If the Competition Committee [of the Spanish Football Federation] decide that a chant is cause for punishment, and the Administrative Court ratify that it is a punishable offence, then there are various potential sanctions, and could include closing the Nou Camp."

Barcelona have already played one game behind closed doors at the Nou Camp this season, the 3-0 win over Las Palmas on October 1.

However, Barca took that decision themselves after their request for the match to be postponed amid local unrest during the Catalonia independence referendum was rejected by the Primera Liga.

Hundreds of people were injured in clashes with police across the region on that day as the people of Catalonia voted in a referendum which had been declared illegal by the Spanish government.

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has been boosted by the availability of Luis Suarez as his side look to crack one of the Primera Liga's meanest defences on Saturday.

Suarez sat out Uruguay's friendlies against Poland and Austria during the international break to aid his recovery from an ongoing knee problem.

And Valverde had positive news about the striker's progress on Friday, confirming the prolific 30-year-old forward has been training well and is fit to help Barca attempts to unlock a Leganes side who have kept seven sheets in 11 league matches this term.

"He's well, recovered," Valverde said. "He underwent special treatment last week and this week he has been very strong and active in training."

Leganes' impressive defensive record has taken a bit of a hit recently, with the team conceding five of the eight goals they have let in this campaign in suffering defeats at Sevilla and Valencia in their last two outings.

However, they still boast the third meanest backline in the division - only Barca (four goals) and Atletico Madrid (six) have conceded less - and Valverde concedes Saturday's clash will be the start of a testing run of fixtures for his league leaders.

"What concerns us about Leganes is that they concede very few goals. At home they have conceded in only one of the five games they've played," he said.

"It's a team that supports each other and believe in what they do. They have enthusiasm and they transmit that to each other.

"We'll have to do well to win because it's the start of a very difficult run from here until Christmas," added the Barca boss, whose side have to play the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus, Valencia, Villarreal and Sporting Lisbon before the end of the year.

Valverde, who is likely to be without Javier Mascherano for the next month, was also asked about Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann during his pre-match news conference.

The France international has this week been closely linked with a move to Camp Nou at the end of the season, but if there is a deal in the pipeline, Valverde was giving little away.

He said: "He's a great player, but I'm happy with the players I've got. In the future we'll see."

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann is rumoured to be a target for Barcelona. Ballesteros / EPA
Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann is rumoured to be a target for Barcelona. Ballesteros / EPA

Despite their back-to-back defeats, Leganes are still healthily-placed in ninth spot and manager Asier Garitano hopes his well-organised side can put on a better show on Saturday then they managed in last season's corresponding fixture with Barca, when they were thrashed 5-1.

Garitano said on his club's website: "This season I hope to find a better version than the Leganes of last season and compete in these kinds of games, which would be a big step for us.

"Our opponents scored five against us last season and the fans were happy and applauded, which is bad. But that was last year. Now I hope that opposing teams are all finding it much harder, and that Leganes are getting better all the time."