16:28 GMT21 February 2020
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    Catalonia-born soccer star and Manchester City manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola has been included in a list of Catalan separatists compiled by Spanish police, according to local media.

    The list, featuring the names of persons who actively promoted a referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain, includes the soccer star, El Nacional, a Catalonian newspaper, has reported.

    According to an excerpt from the report cited by the paper, the former Barcelona defensive midfielder read a manifesto in support of Catalans' right to hold a referendum on the region's independence at a rally on June 11, 2017. This, police say, helped in the mobilization of independence supporters, making him subject to investigation for 'rebelling'.

    Guardiola has made no secret of his support for the region's independence movement. Back in October, the player called the Spanish government's decision to suspend Catalonia's autonomous status "a sad day for democracy."

    The former player-turned Manchester City coach is widely seen as one of FC Barcelona's all-time best midfielders, and coached FC Barcelona B and FC Barcelona from 2007-2012, managing FC Bayern Munich before coming to Manchester City last year. He played for Catalonia's national soccer team between 1995 and 2005, and for Spain's under 21, under 23, and national soccer teams between 1991 and 2001.

    Catalonia and Spain as a whole have been in the throes of a political crisis following an October 1 referendum which saw over 90% of voters backing the region's independence. Madrid refused to recognize the referendum's results, and imposed direct rule over Catalonia in late October, with many of the region's leaders arrested or exiled abroad.

    On December 21, Catalonia held a snap parliamentary election, with the three leading parties that support independence receiving a majority, giving them a combined 70 of the 135 mandates in the region's parliament.

    separatism, soccer, Josep 'Pep' Guardiola, Catalonia, Spain
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