Barcelona will take on Osasuna on Thursday evening in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the fourth year in which the Spanish Supercup has been held there.
The Royal Spanish Football Federation makes some €40m from doing so, but has always maintained that their presence in the Middle East was in part to improve attitude and human rights in the region – something Barcelona clearly does not feel they have done enough of to keep their fans safe.
Ahead of the match, as per Diario AS, Barcelona has published a series of instructions to their fans, particularly aimed at the LGBTQIA+ community.
“It is recommended to have respect and prudence in public behavior and demonstrations of affection. Indecent behavior, including any act of a sexual nature, could have legal consequences for foreigners. Relationships between people of the same sex and displays of support for the LGBTI community, even on social networks, may also be grounds for sanctions,”
They warned fans that alcohol, drugs and pork products are strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia, and aso encouraged fans to “adopt discreet attitudes in public places”, “respect customs”, “avoid large gatherings, particularly at public or religious events.”
“Protests, marches… or activities that the government considers contrary to the law are prohibited, as they go against the social peace.”
They also put out a terrorist warning for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
“With regard to terrorism, it is recalled that Saudi Arabia and citizens of Western countries, including Spanish citizens, are potential targets of terrorist groups that operate in the country and in neighboring countries, or from terrorists into solidarity who act on their own initiative.”
It should be noted that these recommendations are in line with what the Spanish Foreign Office advises for its citizens, rather than put together specifically by Barcelona. Saudi Arabia is currently involved in aiding one side of the Yemeni civil war, and as such has become a target for drone strikes from the opposing side.
Being ‘more than a club’, as Barcelona proclaims, some might have expected them to take a stronger stance on playing in a country where their fans cannot feel safe because of their identity.
The Blaugrana have used the rainbow flag, and made plenty of effort to promote women’s rights during the past year, and yet will be making a significant income to play in Saudi Arabia, where both women and the queer community are discriminated against for being born.
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