Catalonia: Pep Guardiola joins independence rally in Barcelona
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has joined thousands of protesters in Barcelona to call for independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia.
(bbc) He made a strong plea for voters to take part in an independence referendum scheduled for 1 October.
“We will vote, even if the Spanish state doesn’t want it,” Guardiola told the crowd. “There is no other way.”
Surveys suggest Catalan voters would narrowly reject independence, though most favour holding a referendum.
On Friday, Catalonia regional government leader Carles Puigdemont decided to hold the vote later this year, in defiance of the government and contravening a ruling by Spain’s Constitutional Court.
It is not clear if the referendum will go ahead.
Guardiola – who is revered in Catalonia for his footballing achievements – also demanded international help against “the abuses of an authoritarian state” at the rally.
Local authorities say that about 30,000 people attended, but a separatist source put the figure closer to 47,000.
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The latest polls suggest that most Catalans support the holding of a referendum similar to the one held by Scotland in 2014 – the main difference being that the Scottish vote had the support of the British government.
Polls indicate a tight race, with 48.5% of respondents opposing independence, and 44.3% in favour.