Southampton defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu has taken to social media to condemn the violence committed by the police forces towards those taking part in Catalonia’s monumental independence referendum.
On his official Facebook profile Romeu (pictured below) wrote ‘Peaceful people willing to vote. Violence can never be the answer. So sad…… ‘alongside a video he shared of police decked out in riot gear assaulting voters. On his twitter Romeu has also retweeted several posts expressing similar sentiments.
This social media support comes as thousands took to the streets in the last week to protest against the police crackdown. In a rare televised address Spain’s King Felipe VI condemned the referendum, saying Catalan’s regional leaders showed ‘an unacceptable disloyalty towards the power of the state’. This has prompted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to declare his disappointment in the actions of the monarchy. It seems the political situation is only going to get more tense.
Romeu, who last season won both the fans’ player of the year and players’ player of the year at Saints, is a native Catalan having been born in Ulldecona in 1991, so the response to this referendum will have struck a nerve with him.
Oriol is not the only Spanish footballer who is speaking up against the violence and in favour of the Catalan referendum. Barcelona defender Gerard Pique made the news recently for his taking part in the independence referendum. This was particularly controversial as Pique is a key part of the Spanish national team, and is consequently facing a backlash from Spanish fans calling for Federation officials to pull him from the squad.
Southampton FC have in recent months shown themselves to be a club with an eye on current social issues, and Oriol’s condemnation fits in with this. For the opening game of this season against Swansea, The Saints partnered with The Big Issue, and had them produce the match day programme. Furthermore, Romeu’s teammate and England star Ryan Bertrand recently revealed that he wants to extend even more help towards the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, wanting to go above and beyond the financial donations he already pledged to commit to the victims.
Romeu deserves praise for using his profile to support this important referendum, as to quote British journalist Paul Mason who was in Catalonia during the voting, ‘In Catalonia on Sunday I saw something like a true democratic participation – and that should make the world, and the EU, think twice before dismissing the whole thing as a nationalist stunt’.