Catalan Football Fans Wave Estelada Flags at Copa Del Rey Cup Final

Just a few hours ago Barcelona won the Spanish football Copa Del Rey final 2-0 against Sevilla at Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid. It was a proud moment for the Barcelona fans who waved Estelada flags to celebrate the victory. The pro-Catalan independence flags have become a common sight at Barcelona’s home matches in recent years during an upswing of separatist sentiment in Catalonia which is situated to the north-east of Spain.

Catalans had won an appeal against a decision by Spanish authorities to ban the waving of the Estelada during the Copa Del Rey cup final. Copa del Rey cup finals in recent years have been used by separatists among Barcelona’s large fan base to display pro-independence flags. Spain’s King Felipe VI was loudly jeered by both Catalans and Basques before last year’s final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou. Barcelona stated that the ban of the Estelada flag symbolising support for Catalonia’s breakaway from the rest of Spain was an attack on the freedom of expression.

Catalonia has a distinct language and culture which was suppressed during the 1939-1975 military dictatorship of General Franco. Spain has been engaged in a fight to try and suppress Catalan calls for independence with its highest court rejecting key parts of a charter that would have granted it more autonomy recognising it as a nation within Spain. Central government has repeatedly quashed moves for an independence referendum, maintaining that it would be unconstitutional, and has made it clear it will use all legal methods to prevent the independence of Catalonia. Catalonia’s pro-independence parties won a parliamentary majority in a September regional election, and have pledged to introduce an 18-month plan for independence from Spain by 2017.

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