Puyol defends players after Espanyol clashes

September 30, 2008

Barcelona captain Carles Puyol has defended himself and his team-mates over allegations from Espanyol that they helped incite the crowd trouble during Saturday's derby.

Espanyol general director Pedro Tomas claimed on Monday that his club would be reporting the "provocative behaviour" of some of the Barca players to the anti-violence commission.

The match, which Barca eventually won 2-1 thanks to two late goals, was stopped and the players left the Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys pitch for several minutes during the second half following ugly scenes in the stands where flares were thrown in the direction of the home fans.

"We will report the behaviour of some of the Barca players, celebrating the goal, but also encouraging and provoking the violent members of the crowd," said Tomas.

However, Puyol has responded by saying: "This is totally out of place. We are surprised. In those moments of tension, when your pulse is going 180 a minute, we were happy because we had scored a goal and we only intended to celebrate it with the fans, because in this section we also had friends and family.

"At no moment was our intention to salute the violent fans - the minority who have thrown the flares.

"The dressing room and Barcelona do not feel represented by those that threw the flares, the same as that the person who threw the bottle at (Barca goalkeeping coach Juan Carlos) Unzue does not represent Espanyol.

"The players are 100% against violence."

The Spain international added: "I apologise if these celebrations annoyed anyone. The players like to think about football and if there is anyone who is always against violence, it's us."