Barcelona strike Estelades deal with UEFA, withdraw CAS appeal

Updated: 

Barcelona have agreed to drop their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over their punishments for displaying Estelades flags during Champions League matches last year.

The Camp Nou club had been appealing to CAS having received fines totalling EUR70,000 for their supporters flying pro-Catalan independence flags in Champions League games, but have now withdrawn that action.

In return, UEFA will review its disciplinary rules and set up a working group in a bid to ensure any future punishments are more flexible and not perceived as unfair.

"UEFA is happy to note that FC Barcelona has withdrawn its appeal to CAS regarding the financial sanction imposed on the club by UEFA's independent disciplinary bodies in connection with the display of "Estelades" at two UEFA Champions League matches in November 2015," read UEFA's statement on Monday.
 
"UEFA appreciates that FC Barcelona has recognised that, when it comes to the application of the current UEFA's Disciplinary Regulations, there is presently little scope for the disciplinary bodies to depart from the established rules and that they must enforce these rules as they stand, including with respect to the existing prohibition of political type messages at football matches.  
 
"At the same time, UEFA recognises that rules of this nature are not "set in stone" and that they can, and should, evolve to reflect the nature of the society in which we live, where freedom of expression is generally a value to be supported and cherished.  
 
"While UEFA does not want football matches to be used for the purposes of political demonstrations, it also would have no wish to sanction any club or national association in situations where no reasonable person could object to, or be offended by, a particular message conveyed at a football match.    
 
"Consequently, UEFA is also happy to re-examine the precise scope of its existing disciplinary regulations, in order to ensure that, if and when any sanction is to be imposed, this only happens in circumstances and cases where the majority of reasonable people think that a sanction should be imposed.
 
"With this in mind, UEFA will also establish a working group, involving both clubs and national associations, to review the disciplinary framework and which will make appropriate recommendations."