Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City gestures during the press conference for the match against Manchester United FC of 2016 International Champions Cup China soccer tournament at Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Beijing, China, on July 24, 2016. The derby will be held at the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, on Monday. IANS

Manchester City chief coach Pep Guardiola was fined nearly $28,000 by England's Football Association for appearing on the touch line sporting a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan activists and politicians jailed for their role in an unconstitutional referendum on the region's independence from Spain.

The Catalonia native displayed the ribbon during several Premier League, EFL Cup and FA Cup matches as a way of pressing for the release of independence activists Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart and politicians Joaquim Forn and Oriol Junqueras, who have spent four months in pre-trial detention, reports Efe.

"Pep Guardiola has been fined 20,000 pound and warned as to his future conduct after admitting an FA charge for wearing a political message, specifically a yellow ribbon, in breach of The FA's kit and advertising regulations," the official FA spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

The FA initiated disciplinary proceedings against Guardiola on February 23 on the basis of its ban on political and religious imagery.

Manchester City and Guardiola denied that the ribbon was a political symbol, likening it to the red poppies worn by Britons in November to commemorate the British military personnel who died in World War I.

"I accept the decision because I have to do, but that doesn't mean I agree or not," Guardiola said Tuesday.

In the wake of the disciplinary proceedings, Guardiola opted to cover the ribbon with a scarf in City's 3-0 win over Arsenal in the February 25 EFL Cup final.

But he confirmed in the post-match press conference that he would continue to carry the ribbon, whether on his coat or in his pocket.

During City's most recent game, against home side Chelsea, the ribbon was not seen, as the coach replaced it with a yellow daffodil of the Marie Curie cancer charity.

Guardiola has also worn the ribbon during UEFA Champions League matches, but the continental federation does not ban this kind of conduct.

FA CEO Martin Glenn recently sparked controversy when he compared Guardiola's ribbon to symbols such as the swastika, the Star of David, the hammer-and-sickle or badges representing Islamic State.

Glenn was forced to apologise the following day. (IANS)