La Liga president Javier Tebas has suggested that officials should call off the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Sevilla on April 21 if Barcelona fans whistle the Spanish national anthem as it is played before kickoff.
Barcelona go into the game at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano looking to win a fourth consecutive Copa trophy — and with fans of the Catalan side’s alleged “disrespect” for institutions, including Spain’s King Felipe VI, having become an annual talking point around each showpiece occasion.
This year’s final comes amid extra political tension, with Spain’s national government having used article 155 of the country’s constitution to impose direct rule over Catalonia in October amid a drive towards independence in the Catalan regional parliament.
Speaking to El Debate de Hoy, the La Liga chief said that while the Spanish federation (RFEF) is in charge of the Copa competition, his personal view is that the authorities’ job is to ensure respect for symbols of the Spanish nation.
“I have always said there should be punishments, including stopping the game,” Tebas said. “I am not saying it is foreseen that [the anthem] will be whistled. But if nothing much changes, then article 155 should be enforced at the Wanda Metropolitano. This would show that during these times, we are respecting the symbols of the nation.”
Tebas made a similar call in 2015 ahead of the final between Barcelona and Basque side Athletic Bilbao, with no action taken on that day when the anthem was whistled at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan