- Title: Valverde tells fans to protest freely in Clasico but show respect
- Date: 17th December 2019
- Summary: BARCELONA, SPAIN (DECEMBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) FC BARCELONA PLAYERS WALKING ONTO TRAINING PITCH VARIOUS OF, LIONEL MESSI, AND, LUIS SUAREZ, TALKING TO EACH OTHER VARIOUS OF PLAYERS WALKING ONTO TRAINING PITCH MESSI AND SUAREZ VARIOUS OF PLAYERS PASSING A BALL GOALKEEPER, MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN, IN TRAINING MESSI AND, ARTURO VIDAL, AMONG TEAM MATES, DURING TRAINING TRAINING UNDERWAY FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, ARRIVING FOR PRESS CONFERENCE CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "We are in the first half, there are many games ahead and of course either team would like to go ahead in the standings after the match. But, there would still be a lot of league games left. What is clear is that there are no distances, we two are very close in every way. Compared to the other games we have played here, there is some difference but, in the end, regardless of the difference in points between the two teams, when you play this game everything is equal in terms of intensity, in terms of wanting to win and for what the game means." MESSI AMONG TEAM MATES TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, ON PROTESTS, SAYING: "We are used to that. There is always a lot of expectation around the games we play and especially in this one, and we know what is being said. But, what worries us most, what concerns us most is the match. The other is something that we don't worry about. What will happen in the ninety minutes, which is where we have to act, that is the question." PLAYERS DURING TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "At that time I thought it was best to play, as a normal thing, and in the case of tomorrow's game too. I am convinced that tomorrow we will play without any problem and nothing will happen. People can express themselves in one way or another but that the game is going to be played, that is the impression I have and we have to be prepared for that." MESSI AND, IVAN RAKITIC, KICKING BALL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "Well, especially in the games that we have played away from home it is true that we have had very good results. At home it has cost us more. Last year in the league was different but in Copa we tied, the previous year we tied with two (goals). Here Real Madrid is a team that usually plays well, which usually faces the matches with great intensity and tomorrow we expect that from Madrid, of course." PLAYERS KICKING THE BALL (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "Well, I do know that this happened during the Rayo and Albacete match. I am not afraid of anything in this regard for tomorrow's match. I believe that people can express themselves freely on the field as long as there is respect for everyone. That is what we always ask from the club, that there be respect for all people, for those who perform on the field, for the opposition fans. I think that is good. I don't know what will happen from now on after having suspended that game, we'll see. But what we do understand is that football has to be something to unite everyone, not separate us." MESSI, RAKITIC AND, ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, AMONG TEAM MATES KICKING BALL VALVERDE LEAVING PRESS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 31st December 2019 19:46
- Keywords: Barcelona El Clasico Nou Camp Real Madrid coach Ernesto Valverde
- Location: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- City: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001BAD7X33
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said fans can protest if they wish but must remain respectful during Wednesday's (December 18) La Liga clash with Real Madrid, which is set to be a highly-politicised encounter between Spain's biggest rivals.
'El Clasico' has always been fraught with tension - Luis Figo, who left Barcelona for Real Madrid, famously had a pig's head thrown at him in one match in 2002 - and anger about the central government's handling of the region's independence drive is expected to be felt in the stands.
Fans' chants and actions are set to come in for renewed scrutiny, however, after Sunday's second division match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete was abandoned for offensive chanting and Valverde warned supporters not to cross the line.
The match was originally scheduled for Oct. 26 but postponed due to political unrest in Barcelona over the jailing of Catalan independence leaders and the rescheduled match will take place amid a large pro self-determination protest around the Camp Nou.
Valverde criticised the decision to call off that game and hopes the match goes ahead incident-free at the second time of asking.
Authorities have assembled 3,000 private and public security officers for the game in response to the demonstration and for the first time ever the two teams will meet in the same hotel before the match and share a police escort to the ground.
(Production: Jordi Rubio and Luis Felipe Castilleja)
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