Barca and Real rivalry satirized amid Catalonia crisis

(CNN)With tensions running high in Spain, the crisis in Catalonia has been given animated filmed satirical treatment with Spanish riot police violently attacking Barcelona soccer players in a spoof El Clasico game as the Catalan club plays its fierce rival Real Madrid.

With no sign of a political solution to the Catalan independence crisis and with protests continuing into a second weekend, French TV station Canal Plus’ one-minute film is titled “The situation in Catalonia makes us imagine that the next El Clasico Barca/Real will be something different.”
It shows star Barcelona players such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta being manhandled, kicked and punched by police with riot shields.
    The mocked up mayhem continues apace, with Messi coming in for particular treatment as he is pepper-sprayed while lying on the ground.
    It concludes with a Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, dressed in Real Madrid kit, lining up to take a penalty.
    He miskicks his effort, but it is helped into the open goal by one of a phalanx of riot police flanked either side of him. Rajoy then runs off to celebrate.
    Each season, the rivalry between Spain and Catalonia is played out on the soccer field, when the two giants of La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid, meet in El Clasico, one of the world’s most anticipated games.

      El Clasico: ‘100,000 people whistling’

    As former FC Barcelona president Joan Gaspart told writer Sid Lowe: “History has transformed us into more than a football club. Barcelona (the capital of Catalonia) is the defense of a country, a language, a culture.”
    Real Madrid was the favored team of former Spanish dictator General Franco, adding to the passion and partisan rivalry surrounding the clash.
    A tweet of the film, which was made by Bordeaux-based graphic design agency Hotu, on Canal Plus’ Twitter feed, has been retweeted over 21,000 times and liked by over 18,000.
    Other postings promoting Canal Plus offerings have figures for social media interaction in the small hundreds.
    Called ‘shockingly funny” by leading Spanish sports website Marca, journalist Lowe tweeted in a response to the film: “WTF.”
    Canal Plus and Barcelona FC were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNN, but Hotu, whose brief is to produce a topical film on current affairs each week for the French station, stoutly defended its film.
    “We are not taking sides. Being for against independence for Catalonia is not our purpose,” a representative told CNN. “We’re talking here about only one thing; police brutality in Catalonia.
    “We just transposed the reality of police violence into an iconic and symbolic representation of Catalonia; FC Barcelona.”

    Violent clashes

    Over 800 people were injured in clashes last Sunday as riot police intervened to try to stop people voting in a ballot on Catalan independence, ruled illegal by Rajoy’s Spanish government.
    Amid the trouble, Barcelona opted to play its home La Liga game in the Nou Camp behind closed doors for safety reasons as its opponents Las Palmas had signaled opposition to the independence referendum, sending its players onto the pitch with small Spanish flags sewn into their jerseys.
    Meanwhile, fans of Real Madrid left no doubt where their allegiance lay, with a sea of Spanish flags being waved during their match later last Sunday against another side from the Catalonia region, Espanyol.
    Despite leaving nearly 100,000 fans outside the Nou Camp, Barcelona beat Las Palmas 3-0, with Messi scoring twice to maintain its leadership of La Liga.
    Before the match, Barca players lined up sporting the red and yellow colors of Catalan independence before reverting to normal strip.
    Star defender Gerard Pique, who voted in the referendum, finished the match in tears and later described it as the “worst game of my life.”
    Pique received a mixed reception when he played for Spain against Albania in a World Cup qualifier Friday, at times being booed but also cheered by supporters.
    With reigning European and Spanish champion Real currently trailing in La Liga, December’s El Clasico in its Bernabeu stadium is likely to prove pivotal in the title race.

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