Un observador inglés (15) – Who exactly issued the orders to confiscate yellow shirts and scarves?

I’d intended to blog about the main news from Spain and Catalonia again: fake masters, the fake accusations of violence from CDR groups, fake rebellion and terrorism charges, fake accusations of the misuse of public funds, the fake ‘negative effect’ on the economy of the Catalan independence process, the fake news about Russian ‘anti-Spain bots’ influencing the December 21st elections (despite what El Pais claimed), the fake town of Sant Esteve de les Roures, first invented by the Guardia Civil because of the ‘violence’ that took place there – and now peacefully (and hysterically) adopted on social media by the Catalans themselves. I was going to blog about Roberto Mesa, the activist accused of wanting to throw ‘the Bourbons to the sharks’ … or about the benefits of tax relief if you donate to the Francisco Franco Foundation … or about the actor Willy Toledo not turning up in court to answer accusations of insulting God (who didn’t turn up either, apparently) … or about Chinese ballot boxes, or the CaixaBank and the Chinese mafia … or Manuel Valls, Noam Chomsky, ETA’s apology, or judge Llarena v Cristóbal Montoro … or about Roger Torrent meeting UN officials and the mayor in Geneva … or Artur Mas meeting up with Nicola Sturgeon (and also Clara Ponsatí) in Edinburgh … or about Letizia opening a car door for her mother-in-law. Yeah, I was going to blog about all that ‘stuff’ … but I still can’t get over what happened before last night’s football match.

Yellow. It is just a colour.

Here are some questions for you, Spain. Who actually gave the order for Spanish National Police officers to confiscate yellow scarves and shirts from Barcelona fans (many of the items not even bearing any slogans at all) before last night’s ‘Copa del Rey’ final between Barcelona and Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid? Out of curiosity, had there been a discussion or agreement in parliament beforehand? Or a decision taken at a government cabinet meeting? Was there a court order? Who ordered the police to confiscate yellow items? The owners of the stadium? The Spanish football federation? The police themselves? A judge? Spain’s minister of interior, Juan Ignacio Zoido? Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy? The crown? Who? Who’s in charge? Who’s actually running the country – I mean, who’s really running it? The reason I ask is simple: I don’t think he (or she) should be trusted with giving any future orders. If you can order your police force to confiscate yellow items, you could order them to do anything.

People say that Spain is still a democracy. Er … okay, I’d agree with that … but the image of Spain internationally, the ‘Brand Spain’ or Marca España, is piss-poor right now. And for many reasons: from the images broadcast aound the world of Spanish police brutality against innocent Catalan voters last October, to the Amnesty, UN and Human Rights Watch reports about the suppression of freedom of expression in Spain, right up to the current and on-going farce of the European Arrest Warrents based upon non-existent ‘rebellion’ charges. Now the images of FC Barcelona football fans (captured by trusted news crews) having to remove yellow shirts or scarves – and I repeat, many of these items without any slogans on them at all – will stick with me for a long time. Do not try and compare this to the FA’s ruling of Pep Guardiola’s yellow ribbon. Do not go there. Many of these were blank yellow shirts and scarves. Some people will argue that they don’t want to see ‘political slogans’ at sporting events – and that the police had to remove all yellow shirts to make sure that all slogans were removed. No, sorry … I disagree. Don’t forget that yellow is not only 50% of the colour of the Catalan (and Spanish) flag, but it is also found on FC Barelona’s emblem, and I believe the colour is also often very visible on some of the club’s other souvenirs and shirts, such as the ‘away shirt’ and training shirts. It is a colour. What has Spain become? Seriously, what has Spain become? It’s a country I love, but this just … well, it just pisses me off, to be honest.

Not every Catalan supporter of FC Barcelona also supports the independence of Catalonia – far from it – but I’m pretty sure that a large percentage of them would have liked to have had a ‘legally agreed’ referendum on the subject to decide upon the matter themselves, rather than witness their friends, fellow citizens and family members being beaten by Spanish security forces last October. I’m also sure that not every Barcelona fan arrived at the stadium last night with the intention of whistling during the national anthem – but again, thanks to the Striesand effect, being told not to do something often has the opposite effect. I’m also pretty sure that a very large percentage of Barcelona fans would like to see the political prisoners released (especially as the charges against them don’t add up). And, okay, yes – the colour associated with the release of the political prisoners is yellow – first through the yellow ribbon, and also through many posters, and with yellow scarves (banned for people working at polling stations in the Catalan elections last 21st December, called by Rajoy). Personally, I’d say that a yellow ribbon seeking the release of political prisoners is not necessarily a political ‘slogan’, but rather a call for democracy. I also always find it very odd that those who insist that there aren’t any political prisoners in Spain are often the same people who don’t want to see yellow ribbons and scarves … because they claim that the ‘yellow’ is a ‘political message’.

On Friday, just in time for the weekend, Spain’s Interior Ministry tweeted the following message: ‘The Penal Code specifies what is considered terrorism. We’re sharing it in case anyone needs to reflect on it over the weekend. Everyone else, go and rest, the Guardia Civil and National Police look out for everyone’s security.’ Spain’s National Police also tweeted before yesterday’s game, stating that the national anthem ‘represents us all’, and that ‘it is a symbol of a country, of a history … today, and always, respect it and don’t offend those who feel proud about it.’ Zoido had warned against whistling during the national anthem – referring to it as ‘violence’. But he hadn’t warned anyone that turning up at the stadium with a yellow scarf or T-shirt could mean that you might enter the stadium bare-chested …

You can argue that you don’t want to see yellow ‘pro-independence’ T-shirts or ‘free political prisoners’ messages at a sporting event – yes, you can argue that – you can have your own opinion about all that. I don’t have to agree with you. There were some pro-independent Estelada flags visible, anyway. For Spanish National Police officers to order football fans to remove blank yellow T-shirts, however – and for the stadium’s stewards to point out to security staff fans wearing blank yellow scarves – also ordering them to be handed over – well, I just find that revolting. I repeat: it is a colour, for fucksake. Rant over.

7 thoughts on “Un observador inglés (15) – Who exactly issued the orders to confiscate yellow shirts and scarves?

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Juli Costa-Esteban

    April 22, 2018 at 5:39pm

    Fortunately yellow doesn’t suit me…

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply


      April 23, 2018 at 2:35pm

      Try purple then

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Brian B. Brian

    April 22, 2018 at 6:12pm

    Big question mark: How come Europe is saying NOTHING in front of such consistent behavior by one of its member states??? Not only the governments I mean, also the mainstream media and thus people in general.

    Sounds like the old story…

    “… then they came for the Catalans, but I did not give a damn, as I was not Catalan…

    … “Eventually they came for me, but then there was no one left to give a damn”.

    Congrats Tim for your excellent blog, as you know I’m a regular follower. Thanks and keep the good work!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 22, 2018 at 6:34pm

    Great article as usual, Tim! I’d also like to point out something that not many people have seen, or commented about. Not enough, anyways. In yet another subtle message for us Catalans, ‘El Preparao’ wore a red and white tie. Sevilla colors? Or Atleti’s (his team)? It doesn’t really matter, as the significance is… that he’s defying Barça fans yet again. Utterly disrespectful. But these are his ways, so I don’t even know why I myself amd surprised.

    We’ve been told (lol) that ‘El Preparao’ must be neutral towards anything and everything but since 3-O that he doesn’t do that. You know this. When he first came to Barcelona for the Mobile Congress, no catalan political figure went to the reception. He wore a V.E.R.D.E. tie that night and as we know its meaning is “Viva El Rey de España”. And when you look back, he’s worn it three times for three different Copa del Rey finals in which, funnily enough, FC Barcelona won the title. I wonder when he’ll finally realize… that he’s lost Catalonia for good. I’m not pro-indepence, but I’m into democracy. I want him out, I want el Gobierno out, and I want our political prisoners… out.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 22, 2018 at 10:31pm

    You are right we must be indignant about the yellow shirts. Also about police photographing the whistlers. On these grounds, all referees will have to change their shirts and hide their whistles too!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    April 22, 2018 at 11:52pm

    I wonder when the first truck from DHL will be attacked by a franquist. Will a jersey from Borussia Dortmund be an offence later on? Will Spain recolor the yellow arrow marks on the Camino de Santiago?

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Joan Martin

    April 23, 2018 at 3:00am

    Democracy, in Spain ??? A real complexity matter since Francoism is still accepted with high tolerance for fascists behaviours.
    Just for your info and perhaps a matter of your interest:
    Yesterday, 21st April, in Valencia the Major Joan Ribò Made honor and tribute to Guillem Agullo’s memory.
    Guillem Agulló, at 20, was assassinated 25 years ago as a result of a fascists group action in Montanejos (Castellón). The rest of the history, guilty condemnation and release, etc. Is quite a shame for democratic values. You can easily follow up if interested.
    Whilst general Franco’s 40 years of dictatorship, the European democracies looked other way and accepted in the “club of democracy” a king imposed by general Franco……
    And now…… oh, my God !! What’s going on in Catalonia ?? What’s going on in Spain?

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