In A Rare Address, Spain's King Felipe Condemns Catalan Officials

Police have been mobilised in their thousands to Catalonia

Police have been mobilised in their thousands to Catalonia

He has indicated that Catalonia could declare independence next week.

Puigdemont said that his government would "act at the end of this week or the beginning of next", according to an interview with the BBC on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Catalan authorities held a referendum on the autonomous region's independence from Spain despite sharp opposition from Madrid.

Timmermans said there is "general consensus" that Catalan authorities "chose to ignore the law" and called images from Sunday "saddening", yet defended the use of force.

Hundreds of thousands in Catalonia have been protesting over Spanish police violence during Monday's vote, during which almost 900 people were hurt.

In a TV address, Mr Puigdemont accused the king of adopting the Spanish government's position.

He disagreed with the European Commission's statement on Monday that events in Catalonia were an internal issue for Spain. "Today, the Catalan society is fractured", the king said, warning that the poll could put at risk the economy of the wealthy north-eastern region and the whole of Spain.

Barcelona's announcement came barely 20 minutes before the scheduled 3.15pm BST kick-off time and followed hours of uncertainty over whether the game would go ahead.

Rafael Nadal said Tuesday that sport and politics must be separated, after Barcelona and Spanish football were dragged into the fall-out of the independence referendum in Catalonia.

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