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Barcelona pay respects to Tito Vilanova at memorial service

AS AS 28/04/2014 As.com
From left to right, Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta at Monday's service. © JOSEP LAGO From left to right, Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta at Monday's service.

A religious memorial service was held at Barcelona Cathedral on Monday evening to commemorate the life of Tito Vilanova, who died on Friday. The service, which was led by Barcelona’s cardinal archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach, is the only public ceremony to take place together with the former Barça coach's family, with Vilanova's wife and children joined by his parents and brother, as well as other relatives. Hundreds of fans also gathered outside the cathedral, watching the service on giant screens.

Among those in attendance at the memorial service were the members of the current Barcelona board, in addition to ex-presidents Agustí Montal, Josep Lluís Núñez, Joan Gaspart, Enric Reyna, Joan Laporta and Sandro Rosell. Alongside the Blaugrana’s first-team squad, the captains of each of the club’s football teams, and those in its other sporting sections, were also present.

Several Spanish clubs sent representatives to the memorial: Espanyol (Joan Collet), Real Madrid (Fernando Fernández Tapias and Emilio Butragueño), Mallorca (Lorenzo Serra Ferrer), Athletic Bilbao (José Ángel Iríbar), Valencia (Amadeo Salvo and Juan Sol), Real Betis (Fernando Casa and Julio Jiménez) and Sevilla (José Castro Carmona). Javier Tebas, the president of the Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), also attended. The presence of Txiki Begiristaín (Manchester City), Eduardo Macia (Fiorentina), and Joao Gabriel and Nuno Gomes (Benfica) saw clubs from outside of Spain also represented.

Other former Barcelona players were also present at the ceremony, including: Carles Rexach, Josep Maria Fusté, Migueli, Ferran Olivella, Josep Moratalla, Tente Sánchez, Toño de la Cruz, Josep Palau and Josep Franch.

David Font, the mayor of Vilanova’s birthplace Bellcaire d’Empordà, was among the members of Catalonia’s public authorities at the service. Font was joined by Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias, Catalonia premier Artur Mas and the president of the Catalonian Football Federation, Andreu Subies. The capacity of the cathedral was increased to accommodate 1,500 attendees.

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