Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has appealed to the Spanish government to release the pro-Catalan independent activists and politicians who are in jail.
Guardiola also spoke about Thursday’s regional election results in Catalonia and also responded to reports in Spain that he is named in a police report investigating Catalan independence.
El Nacional newspaper reported that Guardiola is among those named in a report investigating activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, two leading figures in an independent referendum on Oct. 1, which was deemed illegal by the Spanish government.
The two have been held in a Madrid jail without bail on charges of sedition since Oct. 16.
Asked about being named in the police report which will now reportedly be passed onto a Supreme Court judge, Guardiola said in Friday’s news conference: “We will see what happens.
“What I want is the people who are still in jail to go out as soon as possible because it’s not fair, because it’s a probation jail, and the politicians can start to make politics. So please start to talk. Forget about the judges and try to do the best for Catalonia and Spain. That is what everybody wants.”
Guardiola has been actively involved in the political campaign for pro-Catalan independence and had words of support for Sanchez and Cuixart, leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, respectively.
A former Spain international, Guardiola has also worn a yellow ribbon, showing his support for the political prisoners of the Catalan independence movement.
Ines Arrimadas, the leader of Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, which wants Catalonia to remain a semi-autonomous part of Spain, was the winner of Thursday’s regional elections. Ciudadanos is now Catalonia’s biggest party, though pro-independence parties are best placed to form a combined government.
“The most important thing is a lot of people voted, I think more than 81 percent, so it’s really amazing,” Guardiola said. “It shows Catalonia as it is in terms of votes. I think Catalonia completely understands the reality of Spain. Catalonians are people, love being Catalan, and accept naturally a part of the soil that comes from the land. Now the rest of Spain must try to understand the reality that yesterday, Catalonia showed clearly what it wants.
“Yesterday was a legal election and the people of Catalonia with the vote expressed what they are. Now hopefully it’s time to think like a person who votes.”
Asked if Saturday’s game between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the first El Clasico of the season, would have an extra significance considering the outcome of the regional election, Guardiola said: “No. I don’t think so. It’s a football game, and they are going to play for three points.
“I think the best way to express it was yesterday. It was a reality. People want it to be like it was in the past.”
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.