Madrid - Spanish tennis world number one Rafael Nadal has
criticised plans for an independence referendum called by Catalonia's
pro-separatist government for October 1.
The referendum is deemed illegal by the Spanish government
and the country's Constitutional Court.
"I think what is happening on October 1 ought not to
take place because, from my point of view, everyone should respect the
law," Nadal told Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Tuesday.
"The laws are what they are and one can't skip the laws
because you want to skip them. I can't run a red light because that traffic
light doesn't seem right to me."
Nadal, 31, is a national hero in his homeland having landed
a 16th career Grand Slam at the US Open on Sunday.
However, Nadal, who grew up and lives on the Balearic island
of Mallorca, is also a Catalan speaker.
This year the centre court at Barcelona's Royal Tennis Club
that hosts the Barcelona Open was renamed the Rafael Nadal Court.
"I feel very close to the Catalans and I feel very
Spanish as well," Nadal added.
"I don't understand Spain without Catalonia. I don't
want to understand or see it.
"I believe that together we ought to be able to
understand each other and I think we have to make an effort to reach an
understanding because I think we are, without any doubt, stronger together than
"Spain is better with Catalonia and Catalonia is better
with Spain from my point of view."