Barcelona is playing in unaccustomed silence. (Alejandro Garcia / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

Lionel Messi, the world’s best soccer player, and his Barcelona team took the field Sunday to an unusual sound: virtual silence.

With violence breaking out over Catalonia’s referendum on whether to break with Spain, the board of directors for Barcelona decided to play the team’s game against Las Palmas in an empty stadium.

“FC Barcelona condemns the events which have taken place in many parts of Catalonia today in order to prevent its citizens exercising their democratic right to free expression,” it said in a statement. “Given the exceptional nature of events, the Board of Directors have decided that the FC Barcelona first-team game against Las Palmas will be played behind closed doors following the Professional Football League’s refusal to postpone the game.”

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau said that more than 460 people had been injured in clashes with Spanish police.

As a result, Camp Nou was deserted. It was … strange.

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