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.