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FOOTBALL

Guardiola accepts FA charge over Catalonia ribbon

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted a charge from the Football Association for wearing a political symbol, the English governing body announced on Monday.

Guardiola accepts FA charge over Catalonia ribbon
Pep Guardiola has been wearing the yellow ribbon for Catalonia's political prisoners. Photo: AFP

Guardiola has said he wears a yellow ribbon to support imprisoned pro-independence politicians in his native Catalonia.   

The FA ruled it breached their rules on kit and advertising regulations.

Guardiola said in November: “If one day in prison was already too much, look how many days they've been there now.   

“Like everybody knows, hopefully sooner or later I can stop wearing it.”   

The 47-year-old has been wearing the ribbon in support of the political leaders jailed following the Catalonia independence referendum last October, which was declared illegal by Spain.

An FA statement read: “Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted an FA charge for wearing a political message, specifically a yellow ribbon, in breach of the FA's kit and advertising regulations. A paper hearing has been requested, with a date to be set in due course.”

His much-publicised stance over the controversy in Catalonia has become a major issue in his homeland where, according to reports in Spain, the City manager's private plane was searched at Barcelona's El Prat airport two weeks ago by police looking for exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont.

Since the charge was issued Guardiola has either covered up the ribbon during games or not worn it.

READ MORE: Guardiola defends Catalonia political symbol.

However, Guardiola insists that, even though his protest aims to highlight the fates of a jailed group that includes Catalan politicians Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, it is not a political issue.

“When men and women put on a pink ribbon it's because of the support for the breast cancer initiative,” he said.   

“The same when I wear the the prostate cancer badge, it's the same, the idea is the same, there are a lot of ribbons.    

“I'm pretty sure there are people all around the world in Spain and Catalunya who do not want to be independent, but they are not agreeing with putting people in 'prevention' jail.

The FA's stance on the matter differs from European governing body UEFA, who allow the ribbon to be worn. City also believe the symbol is not generally considered offensive

The yellow emblem worn by Guardiola during Sunday's Premier League win over Chelsea was the daffodil of the Marie Curie cancer charity.

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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