Guardiola will not 'damage' Manchester City with ribbon protest

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists he will not allow his protest over Catalan political prisoners to jeopardise his team's form.

Pep Guardiola arrives at Wembley for the EFL Cup final   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola will not continue his yellow ribbon protest over Catalan political prisoners if Manchester City's board ask him to refrain, while the prospect of a touchline ban would also persuade him to seek a resolution with the Football Association (FA).

The FA charged Guardiola with breaching their regulations by wearing a political message last Friday.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss began wearing the ribbon last year to draw attention to the plight of Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, who were placed in custody as part of the crackdown that followed last October's referendum on Catalan independence – a poll the national government in Madrid deemed to be illegal.

Despite the charge, Guardiola still wore his ribbon on the touchline during City's 3-0 EFL Cup final win over Arsenal on Sunday, with thousands of City fans also wearing their own in a show of solidarity.

Speaking in the aftermath of December's Manchester derby, Guardiola suggested he was willing to be suspended by the football authorities over the matter but, with the FA having invited him to provide observations by March 5, the 47-year-old was in a seemingly more placatory mood ahead of the Premier League leaders' trip to Arsenal on Thursday.

"The club is in front of me," Guardiola replied when asked whether he would heed a call from City to end the controversy by removing the ribbon.

"It is more important what happens in the team than what is, in this case, my personal opinion, of course.

"I think that is not going to happen but if it happens they are my bosses and of course I am going to accept. The club is more important than my personal opinion."

On doing likewise to avoid being barred from the dugout, he added: "Of course, I don't want to damage my team. I don't what to damage my club, not at all."

Guardiola has been a vocal proponent of Catalan independence but insists the ribbon protest is one being made on humanitarian rather than political grounds – attempting to draw parallels with other causes that are openly supported in English football.

"It's like, for example, the pink ribbon. It is for breast cancer; it's not about the right or left, democrat or republican," he said. "If I bring a red ribbon it is to support the people who have AIDS, it is not right/left.

"It is like how I wear the pin for prostate cancer. We have a lot of ribbons during the season. The idea is the same. The personal opinion is not a political opinion.

"The people with yellow ribbons in Catalonia, some of them might be independence people but most of them, maybe not.

"It is not about the political issue – the rights of the people who want to vote, it's not talking about that.

"I am pretty sure there are people in Catalonia who do not agree about being independent but they do not agree either with people being in preventative jail for more 140 days.

"Of course, I am open to talk with the FA, to express what I expressed the last day and today."