Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City Football Club, has publicly called for Catalonians to vote in the forthcoming independence vote, even though the national government has declared the referendum to be illegal.
The Catalonian-born former player and manager of FC Barcelona is a high-profile supporter of an independent state for the northeastern Spanish region.
His appearance, at a rally organised in favour of the vote in the centre of Barcelona alongside nationalist politicians, was a sign that the regional government’s plans for a controversial referendum in the autumn were moving up a gear.
Last week, regional president, Carles Puigdemont, announced 1 October as the date for the vote, despite Madrid’s refusal to authorise one.
At last Sunday’s rally, Guardiola read from a manifesto in English, Spanish and Catalan, asking for international help “against an authoritarian [Spanish] state”, saying that democracy was being obstructed.