Real Madrid mourns Iraqi fans killed in IS attack
Real Madrid football players will wear symbolic black armbands on Saturday during an away game as a mark of respect for 16 Iraqi Real fans who were killed in a militant attack on a football cafe.
The Spanish football team said in a statement on Friday that it stood in solidarity with the people of Iraq and condemned the attack carried out by Islamic state group [IS] militants.
Members of a Real Madrid supporters club were killed and over 20 injured on Friday when a group of IS gunmen and two suicide bombers assaulted their cafe in Balad, 80 kilometres north of Baghdad.
"The Real Madrid players will tomorrow wear symbolic black armbands as a sign of their mourning and respect," the statement read.
"Football and sport shall always be spaces in which to come together and in which harmony and peace reign and with which no form of barbaric terrorism will be able to compete," it added.
Football is hugely popular in Iraq, and Real Madrid and Barcelona are among the most popular teams.
Javier Tebas Medrano, the president of Spain's La Liga, said he was appalled by the attack.
"Terrorism has attacked football. We are with the victims and their families," he tweeted.
"We were going to travel this month [to Iraq], but it was put off for security reasons. We will be back to support the people of Iraq."
The attack came on the heels of a two-day wave of bombings in Baghdad that killed nearly 100 people - attacks that were also claimed by IS. The deadliest struck the sprawling Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad on Wednesday, killing 63 people.
In March, at least 41 people - many of them children - were killed and over 100 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd after a local football game in Baghdad.