SPORT

Spain La Liga head fears for post-independence Barca

SPAIN LA LIGA HEAD FEARS FOR POST-INDEPENDENCE BARCA

One of Europe's top football clubs, Barcelona, would no longer play in Spain's La Liga if Catalonia becomes an independent state, the league's president said on Friday.

"If this process progresses then Catalan clubs couldn't play in what remains of Spain," Marca, a daily sports newspaper, quoted Javier Tebas as saying.

Tebas also said he was "concerned about Barcelona's future and La Liga's future if there is independence".

Barcelona -- one of the world's best-known clubs, with an array of footballing stars such as Lionel Messi -- remains a strong component of Catalan identity. Its fierce rivalry with Real Madrid from the capital has been dubbed 'El Clasico'.

The Catalan government late on Thursday passed a controversial bill which aims to guarantee an independence referendum for the northeastern region on Oct. 1.

Several Madrid-based politicians, including Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, have called the referendum "illegal".

Despite the ruling of the Spain's Constitutional Court suspending the referendum bill, the Catalan government has initiated voting preparations across the region.

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