3 October 2017
Barcelona defender, Gerard Pique, faced a hostile reception from some Spain supporters as he trained with the national side a day after Catalonia’s independence referendum.
Pique was whistled at and jeered as he took to the field during a public training session in Madrid ahead of Spain’s final World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Israel.
It came after the 30-year-old Catalan voted in the referendum on Sunday and later condemned the widespread brutality of police in trying to prevent others from doing so.
Around 850 people were injured across the region in clashes with police, who were enforcing the Spanish government’s declaration the vote was illegal.
Pique, who has previously been targeted by Spain supporters because of his feelings on the issue, said he would stand down from international duty if his presence caused a problem for the team.
Speaking after Barcelona’s victory over Las Palmas, which was played behind closed doors because of the chaos locally, Pique said: “I honestly think I can join up with the national team because I’m convinced there are thousands of people who totally disagree with what has happened.
“I also say that if the coach [Julen Lopetegui] or anyone from the [Spanish football] federation thinks that I’m a problem or a nuisance then I will step aside and leave the national team before 2018.”
Pique has won 91 caps for Spain and was a member of the sides which won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.