Pep Guardiola calls for democracy to settle Catalonia independence debate

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has called for democracy to triumph and let the people of Catalonia decide whether they want independence.

He said it was “unfair” that politicians were in exile after Spain deemed the October 2017 referendum illegal and that others were in custody facing the prospect of up to 25 years in prison on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Speaking on Wednesday at a discussion of football, culture and politics at the University of Liverpool, the former Barcelona player and manager made a contrast of the Catalonia dispute to the 2014 Scottish referendum.

He told an audience of modern languages students: “Compare England and Scotland, with Cameron and Alex Salmond and they vote leave. Imagine a situation where Alex Salmond is in jail, the Parliament dissolved and the politicians dismissed.”

Guardiola said: “Now in Catalonia what happens is not easy because the president of Catalonia is in exile and the second most important person, the president of Parliament, is in exile, so 10 politicians are in exile. They can work across Europe and the across the world but they can’t go to Spain because they will be in jail.

“It’s not just politicians but social activists, even singers, cannot come back to Spain, to Catalonia. The current situation is not easy. I think it’s unfair.”

Asked what would be the perfect Catalonia, or the perfect Spain, in future, he replied: “Democracy, democracy, more democracy. What happened here in England is the only solution. Agree a referendum between the sides and vote, and, after, accept the results. It’s the people who are the results but always democracy, democracy, more democracy.”

He added: “I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a politician, I am just a citizen and I am curious to know which way it is going to finish and hopefully it’s going to finish well.”

Guardiola, 47, explained how last week he visited some of the prisoners in detention accused of rebellion and had spent two hours with them in what he said was “an amazing moment”.

He said: “They are more than one year there, not even one single day they should be there.”

On the topic of football, Guardiola said he would like to be an international manager in the future and that the Premier League was the most unpredictable and toughest league he had contested.

He said what he most missed about being home in Catalonia was the food and the weather.

On the weather, he joked: “What happened in this country?”

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