PP wants to punish those who boo Spanish national anthem

Party examining law change to deal with jeering of the kind heard at Barcelona cup final

King Felipe (c) with Catalan premier Artur Mas (l) at the King’s Cup final on Saturday.
King Felipe (c) with Catalan premier Artur Mas (l) at the King’s Cup final on Saturday.Alex Caparros (Getty Images)

The Popular Party (PP) wants to go further than simply condemn the anti-Spanish sentiment expressed at the King’s Cup final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Following the loud boos and jeers heard from the stands of Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium when the Spanish national anthem played over the loudspeakers, the ruling conservatives have announced that they will “suggest a series of legal changes” to ensure that such actions do not go unpunished in the future.

Saturday’s jeering was “an event that offends us,” an “insult” and a “horror”

PP spokesman Carlos Floriano

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez phoned King Felipe VI to express his solidarity after the jeering. Party sources said that the kind of democratic regeneration it defends includes “bringing back prestige to the institutions,” which is incompatible with the contempt for the Spanish anthem expressed at the Nou Camp.

But Catalan regional premier Artur Mas, who led the pro-sovereignty effort that ended with an informal referendum on independence last November, sought to play down the importance of the incident.

“I have been at other King’s Cup finals, for instance the one that these same two teams played in Valencia, and there was also jeering,” he said after Saturday’s game. “If the Spanish government insists on issuing threats and being ridiculous, the only thing it will achieve is for people to feel like booing even more.”

Meanwhile, the Basque government said it would be wrong to fine both clubs, and questioned Madrid’s decision to take the issue up with the national Anti-violence Committee.

“It makes no sense to want to fine the clubs for a decision made by their fans, either to express criticism over the political situation or because much of society has taken up a habit that is incompatible with respect for the institutions at public social demonstrations,” said the Basque government in a release.

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PP spokesman Carlos Floriano said his party was analyzing legislation in countries where attacking national symbols is a crime, with an eye to introducing similar laws in Spain.

Yet the PP is aware that this political term is coming to an end, and that no legal reform can possibly make any headway before parliament is dissolved in late September to prepare for general elections this November.

Nor was Floriano able to say exactly what type of changes might be under consideration.

What the politician did underscore was that Saturday’s jeering was “an event that offends us,” an “insult” and a “horror.”

The PP disagrees with a High Court ruling that found that similar booing at the 2009 King’s Cup final was acceptable in a country with freedom of expression.

“That type of demonstration has no place in a country ruled by freedom of expression,” he said.

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