• La Liga president Javier Tebas claims Pique could have incited Espanyol fans following his celebration.
  • The former Manchester United defender's header helped Barcelona settle for 1-1 draw on Sunday.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has criticised Gerard Pique and even suggested the Barcelona defender could be punished for hushing Espanyol supporters following his equaliser in the 1-1 draw on 4 February.

Gerard Moreno opened the scoring for Quique Sanchez Flores' side in the 66<sup>thminute. The Spain international came close to heading the ball away, but was unsuccessful in doing the same as Moreno made no mistake to give his side a lead at the RCDE Stadium.

Pique's 82<sup>nd minute header from Lionel Messi's cross made sure Barcelona avoided a defeat and also kept his side's unbeaten run in the La Liga intact. The former Manchester United man was seen shushing the home fans after he scored the equaliser.

Tebas, who was critical of Pique's celebration, stressed the central defender's gesture could have incited Espnayol fans to react.

"The committee will rule if the gesture is punishable, but we will take it to them for them to make a decision," Tebas said, as quoted by Sport.

"The regulations make it possible that certain ways of celebrating goals can be considered a provocation."

"We have to highlight the fact Espanyol worked well and until that moment, Pique's goal, there was not a single insult aimed at Pique's family, which is something La Liga was worried about. His provocative gesture made the fans react and come out with intolerable insults."

The league clash between Barcelona and Espanyol was the third time the two teams faced each other in less than a month. The two clubs faced each other in the quarter-final of the Copa del Rey, which saw the Camp Nou outfit progress to the last four of the competition following a 2-1 aggregate win.

After eliminating Espanyol, Pique referred to the Blanquiazules as "Espanyol from Cornella." They moved to Cornell, a suburb of Barcelona in 2009 after previously playing at the Olympic Stadium. Espanyol were unhappy with the defender's comments and reported him to Royal Spanish Football Federation.

Pique explained why he decided to celebrate in the manner in which he did at the RCDE Stadium on Sunday.

"Celebrating the goal was special after everything that's happened in the last week. Some of the fans here have been directing insults at me and my family for a long time. I was telling them, in general, to be quiet, but maybe I shouldn't have," Sky Sports reported Pique as saying.

"I know a lot of good Espanyol fans. Maybe it should have been directed at the club or its owners for not reporting certain things.

"They are from Cornella, like I said the other day. I know it hurt them and I used sarcasm to annoy them but saying they play in Cornella is not disrespectful, it's a fact.

"They complain about that and report me, but they don't investigate insults towards my family. That is disrespectful. The least I could do was bring silence to the Espanyol fans."

Gerard Pique
Barcelona's Gerard Pique was seen shushing Espanyol fans after scoring equaliser at the RCDE Stadium Reuters