Gerard Pique Refuses to End Spain Career ‘by the Back Door’ as Fiery Catalan Protests Continue
?Barcelona and Spain defender Gerard Pique has faced the media to answer questions on his position with the national team in the aftermath of his support for the Catalan independence referendum and the backlash he later received from Spanish supporters at open training.
Police clashed with Catalan citizens trying to vote in the referendum, declared ‘illegal’ by Spain’s central government, on Sunday.
Pique, while refusing to publicly take sides, has strongly backed the people’s right to vote on the issue and admitted earlier this week he would step down from the national team if his continued involvement was seen as a problem by his superiors.
That is certainly not his wish, though, as the three-time Champions League winner remains equally as committed to Spain as ever despite his Catalan heritage.
“No one can doubt my commitment to the Spanish national team,” Pique is quoted as saying by AS as he sat before the gathered press at the request of coach Julen Lopetegui.
“I’ve been playing for Spain for almost ten years – I don’t want to leave by the back door,” he also said when the issue of potential international retirement was raised.
Pique consistently refused to be drawn on questions of whether he thinks the region should be an independent country or if he would be happy if it were.
“I’ve never positioned myself on one side or the other. All I’ve said is that the people have to vote,” he firmly stated.
“I can’t answer [if Catalunya should be independent]. Footballers are global figures, and I can’t position myself on one side.
“Right now, my answer to that is not important. We’re in a difficult political situation and the only way forward is through dialogue or this problem is going to get worse.”
Pique also declined to answer if he would choose to represent a Catalan national team over Spain were independence ever to become reality, suggesting it would come too late for him for it to matter.
“I don’t know what would happen. It’s a scenario that I haven’t considered,” he commented.
“But if that happened, there would be a process of three, four years [before Catalan independence became a reality] like Brexit – so I’d be 33 or so, and I don’t think I’d have to make that decision, so I haven’t considered it.”