The 2017/18-season opener kicked off off in Spain this weekend despite the news of the terror attack in La Ramblas, a popular tourist city in Barcelona.
Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city after Madrid, and capital of Catalonia, Spain’s biggest region in terms of economic output.
The region makes up 20% of Spain’s GDP — a fact touted by supporters of Catalonia’s long-running bid for independence. (Another referendum on the issue could be held in October). Tourism is a big part of the story, but tech, shipping and manufacturing are also important.
Apart from being the second largest economic city after Madrid, Barcelona is also one of the biggest hub in Spanish football and with the transfer market still ongoing, the terror attack had some effects on the transfer window in Spain as Villarreal postponed the presentation of new signing Carlos Bacca, while Barcelona cancelled a plan to introduce new futsal players.
“We can’t go through with a celebration at this moment,” said Villarreal club president Fernando Roig. “We stand in solidarity with the victims. It’s the moment to stand together. Carlos Bacca understands the postponing of his presentation. We will do it at a date in the future.”
Despite the attack, the Spanish Football Federation has decided to go on with the planned season opener with matches to be played Saturday and Sunday.
In solidarity to the victims of the deadly terror attack Barcelona will wear black armbands for their match at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
The Catalan club will also hold a minute’s silence before their league opener against Real Betis, as will all the teams in La Liga this weekend.
A club statement said: “FC Barcelona wants to express its profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, La Rambla de Barcelona. The Club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors.
“As a mark of respect, the flags will fly at half-mast at the club’s installations and the players from both teams will wear black armbands in all the club’s matches this weekend.
“On Sunday, before the 2017/18 La Liga opener against Betis, the Camp Nou will hold a minutes silence in recognition and memory of the victims.
Espanyol, the city’s other top-flight club, condemned the violence and thanked those who had issued messages of support following the attack.
“Still dismayed by the terrible outrage that has occurred this afternoon in Barcelona as a result of a terrorist attack, RCD Espanyol expresses its deepest condemnation of this and all terrorist actions and sends its deepest condolences to all the relatives and friends of the victims of this lamentable episode,” a statement said.
“With our hearts still shrinking to see Barcelona, our beloved Barcelona, attacked vilely by terror and hate, we want to show our solidarity with all the people affected as well as to thank enormously all the samples of support that has received both the city and our club from organisations, institutions and professionals in football and sport.
“Only together will we win the battle to horror. And this club is committed to help in everything to get Barcelona soon recovered from this terrible blow and return to show itself to the world as what it is, its most beautiful city and the pride of the whole espanyolista family and those who so much love it.
Lionel Messi led the tributes for the victims, and Barcelona teammates Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique, as well as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos joined him.
And Camp Nou will pause pre-game on Sunday to honour those who lost their lives on the busy street.
“FC Barcelona wants to express their profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, la Rambla de Barcelona. The club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors,” the club said in a statement.
“I want to send my condolences and all my support to the families and friends of the victims of this terrible attack in our beloved Barcelona, as well as totally rejecting any act of violence.
“We’re not going to give up, there are more of us who want to live in a world of peace, without hate and where respect and tolerance form the basis of our coexistence.”
Striker Luis Suarez added: “Really shocked at what has happened in Barcelona. All my support goes out to the city and the families involved!”
Fellow Barcelona players Javier Mascherano, Lucas Digne, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Deulofeu and Samuel Umtiti, as well as women’s team player Toni Duggan, also penned messages on Twitter.
Neymar, who expressed his affection for the city amid his recent departure for Paris Saint-Germain, wrote: “Really shocked at what has happened in Barcelona. All my support goes out to the city and the families involved!”
Ronaldinho, who won two league titles and the Ballon d’Or with the club, wrote: “Too sad to see the news coming from Barcelona. My support and solidarity for the victims and their families.”
“Indignation, frustration and sadness is what I feel at the moment. Peace for Barcelona. Peace for the world,” added Espanyol winger Hernan Perez.
Players from Real Madrid, who defeated Barcelona to win the Spanish Super Cup a day earlier, also expressed their condolences, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Marco Asensio and Dani Carvajal.
Ronaldo wrote: “Dismayed by events in Barcelona. All my support and solidarity with the victims and their friends.”
“All my support for the victims and families of the attack in Barcelona #EnoughNow”
Real Madrid also released an official statement on their website, saying: “Real Madrid express their deepest dismay at the attack suffered in the city of Barcelona and their solidarity with the victims and their families and friends, at the same time as wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.”