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Soccer coach Guardiola leads Catalan independence rally

Associated Press logo Associated Press 11/06/2017
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola gestures after delivering a speech during a protest organised by the National Assembly for Catalonia, to support the call for referendum in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, June 11, 2017. On Friday, Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont announced that his government would hold the independence referendum on Oct. 1. Spain's government has promised to not allow the vote on grounds that is unconstitutional since it is matter that would affect all Spaniards. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) © The Associated Press Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola gestures after delivering a speech during a protest organised by the National Assembly for Catalonia, to support the call for referendum in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, June 11, 2017. On Friday, Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont announced that his government would hold the independence referendum on Oct. 1. Spain's government has promised to not allow the vote on grounds that is unconstitutional since it is matter that would affect all Spaniards. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

BARCELONA, Spain — Soccer great Pep Guardiola has called on the international community to support a referendum on Catalan independence that Spain's government considers illegal.

Guardiola read a manifesto at a rally of several thousand supporters of Catalan independence who gathered at a fountain in Barcelona on Sunday. He said "democracies in Europe and around the world to stand by us as we defend our rights of freedom, political expression and the right to vote."

Guardiola, a former coach and player for Barcelona soccer club, is now Manchester City's manager.

On Friday, Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont announced that his government would hold the independence referendum on Oct. 1.

Spain's government has promised to stop the vote on grounds that it is unconstitutional since the matter would affect all Spaniards.

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