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Spanish home affairs minister under fire for confiscation of yellow shirts at football final

Pro-independence senators criticize Spanish government’s “authoritarian drift” and “paranoia” after 199 yellow shirts seized at Copa del Rey match

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24 April 2018 06:11 PM

by

ACN | Madrid

The final of the Copa del Rey on Saturday has once again embroiled the world of football in political controversy. Thousands of Barça supporters travelled to Madrid to watch their team play against Seville, among them were pro-independence supporters wearing yellow shirts and scarves as a sign of solidarity with Catalan leaders in jail or abroad.

Entering the stadium, police and security staff confiscated these clothes. It has now come to light that a total of 199 yellow shirts were seized at the entrance of the Spanish capital’s Wanda Metropolitana stadium.

Spain’s minister of home affairs, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has denied giving any “extraordinary order” to Spanish police to confiscate the shirts. He argued that the action was taken in compliance with current legislation, and criticized some pro-independence MPs for questioning the police and denouncing the act as a “violation of fundamental rights and freedom of expression.” He stated how football and politics should not be mixed, and also congratulated the Catalan team on its 5 – 0 victory.

“Authoritarian drift”

Senators from pro-independence parties Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and PDeCAT, in response, have worn yellow handkerchiefs, scarves, T-shirts, and yellow roses during a Spanish senate session on Tuesday. It was an explicit act of protest to the events that took place during the Copa del Rey final.  

During the session, the Catalan senators demanded explanations from Spain’s home affairs ministers. One ERC senator, Jordi Martí, left a yellow rose on his bench after his speech, whole PDeCAT spokesman Josep Lluís Cleries wore a yellow scarf around his neck.

Representatives of PDeCAT and En Comú Podem (ECP) criticized the “authoritarian drift” and “paranoia” of the Spanish government.

Lucia Martín of ECP called on Zoido to explain “what the colour yellow” has to do with “violence,” while PDeCAT’s congress spokesman, Carles Campuzano expressed his group’s “concern” over the matter.

“Zoido is a Minister of Home Affaris who should have resigned over the October 1 police charges,” he said, referring to police violence during the day of the independence referendum in 2017 which left around 1,000 people injured according to the Catalan administration.

“Freedom of expression”

For her part, the spokeswoman for Spain’s pro-unionist party the Socialists (PSOE) reproached Zoido over the confiscation of yellow scarves and T-shirts on Saturday. Margarita Robles warned the Spanish  minister that “the state cannot retreat so much from freedom of expression.”

According to Robles, “even the Minister of Home Affairs is a little ashamed about the matter,” stating that “he must know what coordination he gives to the security forces.”

“In a democratic society, someone wearing a yellow shirt is not a symbol of violence, nor does it mean anything,” she stated.

Justifying the confiscation

The spokesman of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP) at the congress defended the confiscation of the yellow shirts at the Copa del Rey final. Football should be avoided being used as a “pro-independence coup” and “Nazi” court project, said Rafael Hernando.

He said it was “very good” that security forces “remove or eliminate signs that seek to instigate Hispanophobia and confrontation between Spaniards,” he said.

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  • Spanish home affairs minister Juan Ignacio Zoido at Spain's senate on Tuesday (by ACN)

  • Spanish home affairs minister Juan Ignacio Zoido at Spain's senate on Tuesday (by ACN)