English FA charges Pep Guardiola over political symbol | News | DW | 23.02.2018
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English FA charges Pep Guardiola over political symbol

The Manchester City manager has been charged with violating league rules for wearing a ribbon in support of jailed Catalan leaders. Guardiola has vowed not to take the ribbon off until the politicians are freed.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was charged by the English Football Association (FA) on Friday with promoting a political message on the pitch. Guardiola, a native of Spain's Catalonia region, has been wearing a ribbon on his jacket in support of the province's imprisoned and exiled leaders.

"Pep Guardiola has been charged for wearing a political message, specifically a yellow ribbon, in breach of the FA's kit and advertising regulations," the FA said in a statement. "He has until 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Monday 5 March 2018 to respond to the charge."

In October, the Catalan parliament held an independence referendum despite Madrid decreeing the vote illegal. The result was an overwhelming yes in favor of secession from Spain, but less than half of Catalans took part — opponents of secession had been told to ignore the ballot.

The aftermath of the vote saw regional President Carles Puigdemont flee to Brussels, while several of his ministers have been jailed for inciting rebellion. A fresh regional election in December saw Puigdemont's separatist bloc win re-election, though a way forward with the leader still in Belgium remains unclear.

'If they want to suspend me, it's OK'

"OK, they can suspend me for doing that, but the other people are in jail. If they want to suspend me — UEFA, Premier League, FIFA — it's OK," Guardiola said in December after he was issued a warning about the ribbon, vowing he would wear it as long as the politicians were imprisoned.

Guardiola's statement came in response to comments from Manchester United rival Jose Mourinho, who questioned whether the ribbon was against the rules and then claimed he would have been fined for doing the same thing.

es/msh (AP, AFP)

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