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Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola refused to apologize for inviting more fans to attend his team’s matches, despite criticism from the fans’ association.
The City coach said he hoped “more fans” would attend his team’s game, Saturday, against Southampton, in the English Premier League.
He was criticized by the fans’ association, but said his “statements were misunderstood”.
“Did I say I was upset that the stadium wasn’t full?” he said Friday.
“The interpretation of the words remains an interpretation, I will not apologize. I realize how difficult the circumstances we went through last season, and on Saturday we will try to do something together.”
He explained, “It does not matter how many fans will attend, we will have fun with them. After 5 seasons they do not understand my words, I will not apologize.”
The attendance of Manchester City fans at the Champions League matches is usually less than their attendance at the English Premier League matches.
The stadium can accommodate about 55,000 fans. A little more than 38,000 attended Wednesday’s matches against the German team Leipzig, while the area designated for the visiting team’s fans was almost empty.
In the two Premier League matches against Norwich and Arsenal, the stands were completely full.
“If the fans have a problem, I will step down.”
On Thursday, a group of City fans described Guardiola’s comments as “disappointing and unnecessary”.
The Secretary-General of the official club fans, Kevin Parker, said Guardiola’s statements were “inaccurate, as the attendance of fans is excellent.”
He added that he “does not realize the difficulty some people face in attending Wednesday’s match at eight in the evening.”
But Guardiola said he would never blame City fans for not being able to attend matches.
“I am grateful to them for the support they gave us in the Leipzig match,” which was Guardiola’s 300th game with City, and ended with a six-to-3 victory.
“I always say if the fans want to come we will be grateful to them, because I know how difficult the game is, and I know we need our fans,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t sit here and wonder why people didn’t come. If you can’t, don’t come,” he added.
He said, “If it becomes a problem for the fans, I will withdraw. From the first day I do my best, I want to play in the Etihad Stadium in the presence of the fans. What I want is to achieve something with them.”