Pep Guardiola’s decision to continue wearing a yellow ribbon after being warned about it was considered “an act of defiance” by the Football Association.
The Manchester City manager was last week fined £20,000 by the governing body for wearing the symbol on his clothing in recent months in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians.
The FA had charged Guardiola with the offence of “wearing a political message” in contravention of its regulations concerning club officials on the touchline. Guardiola had been warned twice about the matter previously.
Guardiola accepted the charge but argued that he did not believe the symbol was political. He insisted he was wearing it for humanitarian reasons in support of politicians imprisoned following last October’s independence referendum in Catalonia, which was declared illegal by Spain.
The FA regulatory commission which heard the case accepted that viewpoint but also ruled that the symbol had wider meaning.
The written reasons for Guardiola’s punishment, which were published on Thursday, stated: “For many, it has become synonymous with support for Catalan separatists in Spain, and the resistance in the region.
“By strict interpretation of the regulations, which are constructed widely in this respect, it therefore clearly symbolises a political message.”
Guardiola first wore the ribbon for City’s Premier League game at West Brom on October 28. The FA first wrote to him about the matter on December 13, after he wore it during the game at Manchester United three days previously.
City responded on Guardiola’s behalf stating, “While Mr Guardiola does support an independent Catalan state, and has spoken publicly about this… the yellow ribbon is about showing solidarity with those imprisoned.”
The FA replied saying it “expressly considered the yellow ribbon to be a political message” and issued a formal warning, adding further breaches may result in disciplinary action.
The FA did note further breaches but delayed action as City requested more time to fully brief Guardiola concerning the matter. A formal warning was subsequently issued to City for failing “to pass on FA correspondence to Mr Guardiola in a timely fashion”.
Guardiola was given another warning on Feburary 8 and charged after the ribbon became visible again during the FA Cup tie at Wigan on February 19.
Guardiola contended this was unintentional as he “inadvertently displayed the yellow ribbon when he unzipped his jacket”.
The commission did not accept this, stating Guardiola’s actions “were considered an act of defiance against the backdrop of repeated warnings”.
It concluded a fine of £30,000 was appropriate but this was redcuced to £20,000 in respect of some mitigating factors.