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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Pep Guardiola says Barcelona should have called off match over Catalonia vote violence

'Barcelona against Las Palmas should never have been played, not at all"

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets, centre, celebrates his goal against Las Palmas at an Camp Nou. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo
Barcelona's Sergio Busquets, centre, celebrates his goal against Las Palmas at an Camp Nou. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo

Former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola expressed dismay on Monday at the violence that marred Catalonia's independence vote, which he said should have led the club to postpone their match against Las Palmas.

Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0 in an empty Camp Nou on Sunday afternoon, after club president Josep Maria Bartomeu decided to play behind closed doors in protest at widespread police violence against voters.

"Barcelona against Las Palmas should never have been played, not at all,” Catalonia-born Guardiola, now manager of Premier League high-fliers Manchester City, told Catalan radio station RAC1.

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"In Catalonia they have injured a lot of people, people who only went to schools to vote," said Guardiola, who also captained Barcelona during a stellar playing career.

"The images are not deceptive. There were people who went to vote and they were violently attacked."

Catalan officials said 840 people had been injured while trying to cast their ballots.

The handling of the referendum by authorities in Madrid, who had declared it illegal, has left prime minister Mariano Rajoy facing Spain's biggest constitutional crisis in decades.

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