Pro-Independence Supporters Eye Football Star Guardiola for Catalan Presidency – Reports

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Catalan pro-independence supporters want football star Pep Guardiola to lead their pro-independence coalition to victory in a regional snap election in the hope of wooing voters, El Confidencial daily reported.

The 48-year-old former player and manager of the Premier League’s Manchester City is expected to let his contract expire and return to Barcelona, El Confidencial daily cited sources as saying.

Ex-Catalan leader Artur Mas wants to offer him leadership of the Together for Catalonia coalition, which his Catalan European Democratic Party is part of.

The footballer has also been approached by another former chief of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, who escaped sedition conviction and is living in exile in Belgium.

The next election is due no later than 2022 but protesters want it to be held at the earliest date. This may lead to a scheduling conflict since Guardiola is expected to return at the end of the football season next June.

Catalonia has been marred by public unrest since 14 October. Mass demonstrations began after the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced to lengthy prison terms several Catalan politicians involved in organising the unauthorised 2017 independence referendum in the semi-autonomous region.

Hundreds of people, including 300 policemen, have been injured and around 200 detained since the beginning of the protests.

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