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Barcelona to remain away from Catalan independence debate

Madrid: La Liga champions FC Barcelona will not be taking sides in the forthcoming elections for the Catalan Regional Assembly on September 27 in which voters will decide between pro-independence groups or those in favour of the region remaining part of Spain.

The leader of the 135 seat assembly Artur Mas has stated that his pro-independence coalition 'Junts pel Si' (Together for Yes) would see a victory as a mandate to start proceedings leading to Catalan independence and are trying to use the vote as a plebiscite, reports Xinhua.

FC Barcelona is without doubt the best known of all of Catalonia's institutions and has been closely associated with the symbolism of the region. Indeed the club was fined 30,000 euros ($33,734) by European football's governing body UEFA as a result of its fans showing pro-independence flags in last season' s Champions League final in Berlin.

The Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona's home ground, also saw fans of both Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao boo and whistle the Spanish national anthem before the final of the King's Cup at the end of May, leading to further fines.

However, the club has millions of fans throughout Spain and all over the world and perhaps because of this club president, Josep Maria Bartomeu insists the club will remain apart from the independence debate.

"Barcelona has demonstrated it is outside of the electoral campaign. We have always spoken about sport. We will not campaign," said Bartomeu on TV network Canal Plus after his side' s 4-1 win over Levante on Sunday night.

"I understand that is down to politicians to discuss, while Barca will show it is neutral," he said.

Meanwhile, president of Spanish football federation Javier Tebas on Monday warned that Catalan independence would lead to Catalan clubs leaving the La Liga.

"If Spain gets broken, the league will also be broken, although I hope we don't reach that point," said Tebas.

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