Barcelona defender Gerard Pique admits he is ready to quite the Spanish national team after he publicly offered his support for an independent Catalonia.
Pique, who has 91 caps for Spain posted a photo of himself on Twitter casting his vote in the referendum and said he was proud of his Catalonian people. Later that day the defender joined Barca in their comfortable 3-0 win against at Las Palmas at an empty Nou Camp.
Barca had originally tried to postpone the game due to health and safety reason following local turmoil, however La Liga stated that there were no grounds to do so, so instead the game was played behind closed doors to show opposition to police violence against voters in Catalonia.
“I go to play with the (Spanish) national team because I believe in democracy and there are a lot of people in Spain who don’t agree with what has happened today,” Pique told Spanish TV.
“The person who goes with the national team, isn’t the most patriotic, you have to go and perform to your maximum. It’s not a competition of patriotism, it’s about going and giving all you can to win – that’s how I understand it.”
“If anyone in the federation believes I should not be there, I will step aside.”
Catalonia is a region of northeast Spain in which Barcelona is it’s capital. The region has 7.5 million people, it’s own language and culture and high degree of autonomy, yet it is not recognised as a separate nation under the Spanish constitution.
The Spanish government pledged to stop a poll declared illegal on a day of violent protests and unrest. According to official reports more than 750 people were injured as the Guardia Civil used rubber bullets and baton charges as they clashed with protesters.
A passionate and tearful Piquet spoke of the people’s peaceful protest that was made worse by the violence that has caused an even bigger divide between Catalonia and Spain.
The former Manchester United centre-back is due to join the Spanish national team for their forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.