Pique won’t quit, could play on for Spain beyond 2018

Barcelona, Gerard Pique said Wednesday he has no intention of retiring from international football in connection with criticism of his vocal support of a referendum on Catalan independence.

The Barcelona defender said on Sunday that he would stand aside if his superiors felt uncomfortable with his views, and he was jeered by fans during Spain training for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

But he told a news conference Wednesday: “I have thought about it. You have to consider all options but after thinking about it I think it is better to continue and not give in to those who only want to whistle. My team-mates are also in favour of me staying.”

Looking at his Spain future beyond the 2018 World Cup, he added: I have also considered that. I want to go out in the best way possible. I don’t want to depart through the back door feeling that I have not done things properly. This is my family.

I want to go on for them. There will be people whose opinion I cannot change but I feel strong and I want to turn this situation around.

Pique also denied he was at loggerheads with his central defensive partner Sergio Ramos who is known to be a fierce Spanish patriot.

He said: “My relation with Ramos is great. And what is more, we are going to be business partners. It’s too easy to just say that when we turn up at training we need to have these clear the air talks because we are so far apart. It’s a lie. We are close.

He was asked if the saw the contradiction in wanting Catalonia to leave Spain and yet still playing for Spain and he replied: No, and I will give you an example. And it is not my example.

“Someone who is in favour of Catalan Independence could play for Spain. Because there is no Catalan team and the person who believes in independence does not have anything against Spain.

Why would someone in favour of independence not want to play for Spain? It’s a great country with great people. I repeat it is not my case.

“We have to leave all the fanaticism and sentimentalism to one side. In the end we all want Spain to win.

Asked if players should be able to talk about politics he said: “I understand the players that don’t want to talk about politics because it’s a drag sometimes.

“But if I want to express myself then we are not allowed to when everyone else can. Why can a waiter, a mechanic, a journalist talk about politics but a footballer not?

He was also asked outright which way he voted. He replied: That’s the million dollar question and I am not going to answer because the players are global figures and I can’t proclaim one way or the other. Half of my followers are in favour of independence and half are against.

My sons are Colombian, Lebanese, Catalan and Spanish. We live in a globalized world and if think everything is so closely linked that countries are less important.

Source: Ghana News Agency