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Statement: Barcelona will support vote on Catalan independence

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 14: A FC Barcelona supporter waves a Catalan flag with the FC Barcelona emblem during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF at Camp Nou on December 14, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona Football Club says it supports holding a referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

Barcelona issued a statement on Saturday saying it is joining the “National Pact for the Referendum,” a civil society initiative supporting a vote by the wealthy northeastern region.

Despite repeated warnings by the Spanish government that a vote would be illegal, the Catalan regional government says it will hold a binding referendum in September.

The region, whose capital is Barcelona, represents a fifth of Spain’s GDP.

Separatists have used Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium as a rallying point for several years, with pro-independence chants regularly heard at matches.