MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER Pep Guardiola has accepted a Football Association (FA) charge for wearing a yellow ribbon, which the governing body deems to be a political symbol and in breach of its regulations.
Guardiola began wearing the ribbon last year in support of Catalan politicians Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who remain in custody following a crackdown in the aftermath of last October’s referendum on Catalan independence – a poll Spain’s national government deemed to be illegal.
The FA charged Guardiola with a breach of their kit and advertising regulations 10 days ago and, after continuing to wear the ribbon during three subsequent matches, the 47-year-old will now face a hearing.
“Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted an FA charge for wearing a political message, specifically a yellow ribbon, in breach of The FA’s kit and advertising regulations,” an FA statement read.
“A paper hearing has been requested, with a date to be set in due course.”
Former Barcelona boss Guardiola has been a vocal proponent of independence in his home region and put forward his point of view in a news conference last week – likening the pin to those worn to raise awareness for charities and insisting his cause in this instance was humanitarian, not political.
“It’s like, for example, the pink ribbon. It is for breast cancer; it’s not about the right or left, democrat or republican,” he said. “If I bring a red ribbon it is to support the people who have AIDS, it is not right/left.
“The people with yellow ribbons in Catalonia, some of them might be independence people but most of them, maybe not.
“It is not about the political issue – the rights of the people who want to vote, it’s not talking about that.
“I am pretty sure there are people in Catalonia who do not agree about being independent but they do not agree either with people being in preventative jail for more than 140 days.”
That view was rejected over the weekend by Martin Glenn, although the FA chief executive’s response courted unwelcome controversy for which he was forced to apologise.
In defending his organisation’s decision to charge Guardiola, Glenn listed the Star of David and the swastika among political or religious emblems which would break rules if displayed on kits.
“We have re-written Law 4 of the game so that things like a poppy are okay,” he said. “But things that are going to be highly divisive, and that could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could be the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like [former Zimbabwe president] Robert Mugabe on your shirt, these are the things we don’t want.”