Espanyol have called for an investigation into comments made by Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets after Thursday’s Catalan derby in the Copa del Rey.

Barca won 2-0 thanks to goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, overturning a 1-0 first leg defeat to progress to the semifinals where they will meet Valencia.

Referee Mateu Lahoz booked four players from each side and gave over 20 fouls, but also let several challenges go in a fiery second half.

That appeared to leave Barca feeling Espanyol had got away with too much and, appearing in the mixed zone after the game, Pique repeatedly referred to the opposition as “Espanyol from Cornella.”

The defender was referring to the area of Barcelona where the club have played their home games since 2009 in an attempt, Espanyol believe, to discredit them.

Speaking after the final whistle on Thursday, Busquets had said Espanyol “celebrated as if they had qualified after winning the first leg, but the ties are 180 minutes long and we showed we are far superior and are in the last four.”

Espanyol said it was “inconceivable” that a player should suggest an opponent could not celebrate a victory.

They have called for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) Anti-Violence Committee to take action.

In a statement, the club said: “In relation to the rules stipulated by the Anti-Violence Committee, Espanyol request an investigation into comments made by Pique and Busquets.

“In relation to the comments made by Pique, Espanyol would like to add the following information to the investigation: just as Sant Adria de Besos is the base for our training ground, Cornella de Llobregat and El Prat de Llobregat are the cities which our stadium falls into.

“Both cities belong to the metropolitan area of Barcelona and are areas of the wider region of Catalonia, made up of hard-working families, with roots in Spain and other countries, which are and will always be an example of integration, progress and pride.

“We feel any comments clearly made in a derogatory manner, such as those by Pique towards Cornella, flirt dangerously with xenophobic attitudes and also incite violence and intolerance in our sport.”

The statement urges action to be taken against Barcelona supporters, and La Liga (LFP) has also asked the RFEF to file charges for fans’ chants during the game.

Throughout the 90 minutes, Barca supporters targeted Espanyol with a string of insults and offensive chants, which the LFP say “incite violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in sport.”

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde, who has played for and coached Espanyol, was keen to play down the fallout, refusing to add more fuel to the fire on Saturday.

“We’d just come through two intense games,” he said in a news conference. “Some people thought it was excessive what Pique said; others thought Espanyol’s complaint was [excessive]. I place them both within the framework of the rivalry.

 

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