Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he is still “offended” by Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola’s remarks that the country is an “authoritarian state and repressive.”
Guardiola was actively involved in the political campaign for Catalan independence and referred to Spain as “authoritarian and repressive” during a rally in Barcelona in June 2017.
“Yes, of course,” Sanchez said when asked by Marca if Guardiola’s comments still bothered him. “I’m offended because what he said in that regard is not true whatsoever.
“And what is more, according to some sporting media, that same country that he talks about offered him the chance to coach La Roja [Spain’s national team] at one point.”
Now in his third season in charge of City, Guardiola, who guided them to the Premier League title last season finishing with a record 100 points, expressed back in 2017 his aspirations of coaching Spain in the future.
But the 48-year-old former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said earlier this season that, while he would like to coach a national team one day, he will never be Spain coach because “they [the country’s federation] will never offer it [the job] to me.”
Guardiola played 47 games for Spain and won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. He also represented Spain at the 1994 World Cup and at Euro 2000.
He has received criticism in Spain for being a vocal backer of Catalonia’s fight for independence from Spain, including speaking at mass rallies on the issue.
In 2017, Guardiola dedicated his team’s Champions League win over Napoli to two Catalan pro-independence leaders imprisoned in Madrid for charges of sedition.
Last November, he visited jailed Catalan pro-independence leaders to show support for their cause.
“Sport is an element of national pride, it should never be politicised,” Sanchez said.