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Barcelona voice concern despite successful flag ban appeal

Barcelona have expressed satisfaction at their successful appeal against a ban on Catalan flags at the Copa del Rey final, but remain concerned that such disputes continue to arise.

A decision from a Spanish government delegate this week had prohibited any fans from showing pro-Catalan independence flags at Sunday's match between Barca and Sevilla at the Vicente Calderon in Madrid.

The Liga champions accused the delegate of the Community of Madrid of violating their right to freedom of speech, and their appeal against the decision was upheld by judge Jesus Torre Martinez on Friday.

While they are pleased with the outcome, the Liga champions have voiced their displeasure that the issue has once more reared its head.

"Barcelona would like to express satisfaction for the decision which will allow the showing of Estelades at the final of the Copa del Rey this Sunday in Madrid," a club statement read.

"The club celebrates the decision from the judge which will allow on Sunday the free expression of legal symbols and flags among the members and fans of our club.

"At the same time, Barcelona want to show their concern that such situations as the one on Wednesday can still arise, ones which represent an affront to freedom of expression and, furthermore, do not contribute favourably to what has been and will always be a celebration of football and sport in general.

"The club reiterates its commitment to the defence of the freedom of expression of its members and supporters."

Barca were twice fined by UEFA last year after waving Estelada flags and chanting pro-independence slogans during Champions League matches. 

Catalan nationalist groups had planned to distribute 10,000 Scotland flags prior to Sunday's game before the decision to lift the ban was made.

"We've chosen this symbol because it highlights the different treatment that Catalonia receives from Spain, compared with the UK government's treatment of Scotland," they said in a statement.

Carles Puigdemont, president of the Generalitat of Catalunya, tweeted later on Friday to confirm he would attend the match following the successful appeal.

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