PiqueCatalan Gerard Pique takes part in a training session a day prior to the World Cup Group G qualifying soccer match between Liechtenstein and Spain at the Rheinpark stadium in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has defended Gerard Pique from critics who question his loyalty to the national team because of his support for a disputed referendum on Catalan independence. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP, FIle)

National team training interrupted due to Piqué

Spain‘s national team training on Monday was interrupted due to spectators booing of Barcelona player, Gerard Piqué.

 

Piqué has publicly advocated Catalonia’s independence from Spain and has criticized the police’s harsh attempts to block the referendum held on Sunday.

Prior to the assembly of the national team, Piqué offered to withdraw from further involvement with the Spanish national team, but Coach Julen Lopetegui made it clear that he wanted him to stay on.

Profanities

A lot of those attending the Las Rozas facility in Madrid did not share the opinion. There were flusters, booing and swear words against Piqué, and even posters with “get rid of Pique”.

Some even shouted “Spain is your country!” Supplemented by words that are not suitable for print.

Lopetegui chose to cancel the training session early.

Piqué’s well-known political stance has made him booed against when the national team plays home games outside of Catalonia [read Madrid], but it has never been as bad as on Monday.

Worst experience

Sunday, Piqué cried after Barcelona played against Las Palmas without spectators present in the stadium as a protest against the events outside the polling stations. The club wanted to postpone the match but was not allowed by the league to do so.

– This was the worst experience in my life as a professional football player, says Piqué.

– But I’m proud of Catalonia and the people here. No matter how much they were provoked, no matter what traps were set for them, they demonstrated peacefully and sung loudly and clearly.

Due to his statements, Piqué has become a symbol of both sides in the struggle for Catalan independence. In Barcelona he is celebrated as a hero, but in Madrid he is met with hatred and profanities.

 

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today

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