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Espanyol lodge scathing complaint against Piqué and Busquets for post-match remarks

The club also accused Barcelona fans of verbally abusing Espanyol’s players and supporters with ‘numerous xenophobic chants’.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

ESPANYOL HAVE LODGED a formal complaint to the Spanish Football Federation’s ‘Anti-violence Commission’ following their Copa del Rey aggregate defeat to city rivals Barcelona on Thursday night.

The La Liga Club claim that remarks made by Barca stars Gerard Piqué and Sergio Busquets, as well as several chants from home supporters at Camp Nou, could have been construed to “incite violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport.”

After losing the first leg 1-0 at the RCDE Stadium eight days prior, Barca turned the tie around on Thursday night with a 2-0 victory through goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Piqué took a parting shot at Espanyol following Barca’s quarter-final second leg triumph, suggesting Quique Sanchez Flores’ side should not be classed as their city rivals.

The Catalan defender labelled them ‘Espanyol de Cornella’ – alluding to their location in a suburb of the Barcelona metropolitan area – rather than ‘Espanyol de Barcelona’ as the club identifies itself officially.

“It isn’t that we suffered so much in this game, but Espanyol de Cornella always make it difficult for us,” he told Marca post-game.

“We started very well with the two goals and it is a result that pleases us.”

The 30-year-old was then questioned as to whether he had re-christened Barca’s nemeses, responding:

“Yes, Espanyol de Cornella. They’re from Cornella right?”

Busquets, meanwhile, echoed Piqué’s mischievous allusion to Espanyol’s precise location, adding his own barb in the process.

“Yes, we were better in the tie, more than the scoreboard reflects,” he said post-game, before turning his attention back toward the first leg which had resulted in Espanyol taking a 1-0 lead to Camp Nou.

“In Cornella it was a more insane game. They celebrated in Cornella as if they had passed the round, but the tie lasts 180 minutes and we put things in their place.”

Spain Soccer Copa del Rey Luis Suarez heads the ball to score for Barcelona against Espanyol Source: Manu Fernandez

In a strongly-worded statement, Espanyol appear to address tensions related to the Catalonian independence movement (Espanyol have traditionally aligned with the Spanish union, while Barcelona are famously vocal in their support of Catalonian independence).

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Espanyol claimed that Piqué’s comments were “clearly disrespectful” and “flirted very dangerously with xenophobic attitudes” which “clearly incite violence and intolerance in our sport”.

As for Busquets’ remarks, the club said:

“It is inconceivable that an athlete declares that a rival can not celebrate a victory, achieved with effort and in good fight, like the that got our team in the first leg of the aforementioned tie. That celebration focused on congratulating our goalscorer in that game, whose career as a youth squad in the entity is a pride for our fans.

“We consider that the declarations of Busquets Burgos are totally contrary to the values ​​of respect in football and can be generators of violence and intolerance.”

The club also accused Barcelona fans of verbally abusing their players and traveling supporters at Camp Nou, stating:

RCD Espanyol requests the investigation by this Commission of the numerous xenophobic chants and insults that were uttered last night against our club and our fans from the Animation Stand of FC Barcelona.

The club statement goes on to allege that, “among many others”, chants heard on the night included: ‘I hate Espanyol’, ‘Death to Espanyol’, ‘Parakeet bastards’, ‘Parakeets, you are from the Chinese’, ‘Parakeets, remember, you are a shit’ and ‘Sons of bitches of Espanyol’.

Espanyol are known colloquially as the ‘Periquitos’ or ‘Pericos’ – literally ‘parakeets’ or ‘budgies’ in English – a nickname believed to have been coined by Catalan graphic humorist Valentí Casanys in the first half of the 20th century.

Casanys, a football cartoonist, originally labelled Espanyol and their fans ‘the four black cats’ because the team had so few supporters compared to their larger neighbours, Barcelona. At around this time, however, Pat Sullivan’s popular cartoon Felix the Cat was released in Spain.

The titular character was translated into Catalan as ‘Gat Perico’ or ‘Gat Periquito’, and so Casanys began to name Espanyol and their fans ‘els quatre gats periquitos’ (‘the four parakeet cats’).

Thus, Espanyol supposedly earned one of the most bizarre nicknames in Spanish football.

As for Barcelona fans’ alleged reference to ‘the Chinese’, per Espanyol’s statement, the explanation is rather more straightforward: Chinese model car company Rastar Group owns 56% of Espanyol.

Barcelona are yet to respond to Espanyol’s allegations.

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