Barça boss aims to heal Pep Guardiola rift

Barcelona's president Sandro Rosell moved to calm a row with its ex-coach Pep Guardiola on Tuesday, denying his charge that the club used his successor's cancer illness to criticize him.

Barça boss aims to heal Pep Guardiola rift
A fan thanks ex-Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola who won 14 titles during his five-year stint as coach of the club. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Rosell hailed Guardiola as the club's greatest ever coach, in a conciliatory move after Guardiola's comments last week pointed to a deep rift between them.

Guardiola, now coaching German and European champions Bayern Munich, accused Barcelona at a news conference last week of using its current coach Tito Vilanova's illness "to damage" him, without elaborating.

"We were very surprised by his comments. What he said about the board of directors and about Tito is completely false," Rosell said in an interview broadcast on Catalan television channel 8TV and posted online on Tuesday.

"In the press archives you will see how the club has treated him, the best coach in the history of the club."

Rosell urged supporters not to let the issue become a cause of division as he said disagreements with its legendary former player and coach Johan Cruyff had been.

"I ask the Barcelona fans to learn from the past, from what happened in the time of Johan, when the club was divided between 'Cruyffistas' and
non-Cruyffistas," he said.

"I ask that there not be Guardiolistas and non-Guardiolistas."

Guardiola, 42, whipped up a media storm last week with his rant.

Without saying who exactly had made the accusation, Guardiola denied that he had missed a chance to visit Vilanova while he was treated in New York for salivary gland cancer.

"Using Tito's illness to damage me is something I will never forget," he said.

Vilanova had been Guardiola's assistant at Barcelona for five years and he led the Catalan team to what Guardiola called their most successful league win in history last season.

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Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.