BARCELONA: Barcelona captain and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta has called for dialogue between the Spanish government and leaders in Catalonia to resolve the crisis between the central government and its richest region following Sunday's disputed referendum.
Catalonia's parliament is set to declare independence on Monday after going ahead with the banned vote referendum on Oct.1, while heavy-handed tactics employed by Spanish police trying to stop the ballot have been widely criticised.
"I have never publicly weighed in on situations that are as complex and that arouse such diverse sentiments as this and I never will but the current situation we find ourselves in is exceptional," Iniesta wrote on Facebook.
"I am clear about one thing, and before we do ourselves more damage, we need those in charge to open dialogue with each other. Do it for all of us, as we deserve to live in peace."
Iniesta, who scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final against the Netherlands, is one of few Barcelona players universally liked in Spain and often receives standing ovations when playing at visiting grounds. He has even been cheered at arch-rivals Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
The 33-year-old, who has played 121 times for Spain and also won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, is currently injured and was unable to join up with the squad for their final World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.