Catalan Football Federation suspends matches after separatist leaders jailed

Catalan flag
Barcelona is the regional capital of Catalonia

The Catalan Football Federation has suspended all matches in the region on Monday after nine Catalan separatist leaders were jailed.

Spain's Supreme Court sentenced the leaders for sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017.

The federation says the suspension is to show solidarity with the leaders and their families and covers all of its official football and futsal matches.

It does not include La Liga or the Spanish national team.

Catalonia is a semi-autonomous region in north-east Spain and in a referendum on 1 October 2017, declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court, about 90% of Catalan votes cast backed independence, but turnout was 43%.

Prosecutors argued that the unilateral declaration of independence was an attack on the Spanish state and accused some of those involved of a serious act of rebellion.

Monday's ruling comes after four months of hearings.

Catalonia-based Barcelona said "prison is not the solution" and the conflict must be resolved with "political dialogue".

The Spanish champions added: "Now more than ever, the club asks all political leaders to lead a process of dialogue and negotiation to resolve this conflict, which should also allow for the release of convicted civic and political leaders.

"FC Barcelona also expresses all its support and solidarity to the families of those who are deprived of their freedom."

In March 2018, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was fined by the Football Association for wearing a yellow ribbon, a symbol of support for independence in his native Catalonia.

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