Barcelona star Gerard Pique has ruled out retiring from playing for the Spain national team amid the controversy generated by his vocal support of the referendum on Catalan independence.
On Monday, [2 October] some fans urged the defender to give a step aside from his international duties during an agitated training session held in Madrid. Manager Julen Lopetegui was forced to stop the open-door workout after only 23 minutes due to the volume of whistles and insults directed towards the Barcelona defender.
AS reported that Pique considering withdrawing from international duty as soon as this week, prior to the World Cup Qualifier against Albania on Friday [6 October].
Marca added that the Barcelona defender's place in the national team was "hanging in the balance" with the atmosphere in the Spanish camp having become "unbreathable" ahead of the two final World Cup qualifiers.
Pique has admitted he contemplated withdrawing from international duty but has instead committed his future to the team in an effort to dilute tensions around his political stance
"I've considered retiring as it would be easier for my teammates but that would be a victory for those whistling," the Barcelona star said in a press conference.
"I won't give them that luxury because I want to turn this around, and my teammates are also in favour of me staying. I don't want to leave through the back door because this team and the whole Federation are my family and I want to continue for them. The first day was difficult for me because you don't like people being against you and nobody likes being whistled and insulted.
However, the Barcelona defender has hit back at those rumors after pointing out that he is set to start a new business project with the Real Madrid defender.
"Any talk that we don't get along is a big lie. We are even going to be partners in a business that I asked him to get involved with," Pique said when asked about his relationship with the Real captain. "Everything is okay, my relationship with him is phenomenal. It is easy to say things but we are very close and there is no problem between us."
The Barcelona defender has been vocal in his support of the referendum on Catalan independence despite it being considered illegal – as it contradicts Spain's democratic constitution. But Pique refused to confirm whether he voted in favour of a split.
"That's the million dollar question but I'm not going to answer it," Pique added. "I won't say [if I am in favour of independence]. I'm a global figure, I play football and my children are Colombians, Lebanese, Catalans. People who believe in Catalan independence can play for Spain. You may want your own country, but that is nothing against Spain. I'm not saying it is the case with me but it would certainly be possible. People don't oppose Spain and recognise it is full of good people.
He added on his international future: "My commitment to this team can't be doubted. I've been here since I was 15, I consider this a family and I'm very proud to be in the Spanish national team, so it hurts me when my commitment is doubted," the Barcelona star added.
"What I'd like to do is take all of the people who whistle me at the stadium and bring them out to dinner. I'd sit them down at the table and they wouldn't whistle anymore. Social media can be a very cold place where words can be interpreted in different ways by different people."
Meanwhile, Pique urged Spanish and Catalan politicians to open a dialogue and find a solution to the crisis after Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the autonomous region, vowed to declare independence from Spain in a matter of days.
"I think Spain-Catalonia is like father and son where the son is 18 years old and wants to leave home. Spain has the choice to just say no or to sit down and talk. I don't see what you have to lose by talking.
"Dialogue brings people together. The most important thing is dialogue and respect. I only ask you that you respect my opinion."