The Barcelona centre-back divided Spanish national team fans this week as he called for peaceful protest amid a referendum for Catalan independence that has been marred by police violence and controversy. Fans shouted out, in Spanish, as quoted by the Independent: "Pique, a------, Spain is your country ... Pique, a------, leave the national team."
Pique and his Spain teammates exited the field just 23 minutes later. The defender was escorted by security while objects were flung his way and further calls to step away rung throughout the grounds. To that end, Pique had earlier admitted he would step down from Spanish national squad, should the team ask him to.
"I think I can continue because there are many people in Spain who disagree with what happened today and believe in democracy," Pique said. "But if the board really thinks I'm a problem, I will take a step back and leave the national team before 2018."
Political unrest in Barcelona saw the Catalan club play Las Palmas behind closed doors at Camp Nou on Sunday, a match former manager Pep Guardiola said he would not have played. Pique, 30, has delivered two European Championships for Spain and the country's first and only FIFA World Cup title.