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Real Madrid have warned their fans against bringing any extremist symbols or flags into the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu for Saturday’s clasico against Barcelona.
Sections of Madrid’s support, particularly the Ultras Sur group which the club attempted to force out of the stadium last season, have previously displayed offensive neo-fascist banners and flags at games.
Ahead of Saturday’s high-profile clasico, which is likely to be watched by a global TV audience of around 400 million viewers, a document has been sent to Madrid socios [members] which shows about 80 neo-nazi, fascist, racist and other similarly unacceptable extremist imagery.
The document, which is hosted on Madrid’s website, does not take the form of an official club statement.
“Real Madrid communicates to its socios and fans that none of the symbols and flags shown here can be brought into the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, as they can lead to punishments from national or international authorities,” it reads. “The introduction or exhibition in any way of any of these symbols, or similar images, will lead to disciplinary proceedings by the club.”
Through recent seasons the Ultras Sur were quietly tolerated by the club, which provided cut-price blocks of tickets behind the goal at the Bernabeu’s south end to its leaders for distribution. As an internal leadership struggle turned violent last season, Blancos president Florentino Perez moved to ban the group from the stadium.
Other less problematic season-ticket holders were invited to form a new “animation area” at the Bernabeu, which is now located in a different area of the stadium. However the previous “hardcore” have not quietly accepted this sidelining, and there have been reported threats against both the new ‘ultras’ and Perez himself. The Ultras Sur continue to travel to some away games, and were a loud and visible presence at Madrid’s 5-0 win at Levante last weekend.
Two sections of the Bernabeu were closed during Madrid’s opening Champions League game at home to Basel in September, a punishment imposed by UEFA after racist banners were displayed inside the stadium during last term’s semifinal first leg at home to Bayern Munich.
Last October four people among the home crowd were caught on camera displaying swastikas and other Nazi symbols during the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, although La Liga authorities did not take action then.
El Pais also reported last season that unofficial Real Madrid-themed memorabilia, also featuring neo-fascist imagery and slogans, had been sold by ultras groups to children in the Spanish capital.
Source: ESPN FC