MADRID: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has said he “cannot bear to play for Spain anymore” and will quit international football after the 2018 World Cup.
Pique, unpopular with some Spanish supporters and in many parts of the country for his support of Catalan independence, was embroiled in another altercation with fans after cutting the sleeves of his shirt for Sunday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Albania.
Criticism on social media alleged the 29-year-old had intentionally removed the Spain flag, forcing the Spanish federation to issue a statement in his defence.
Pique, and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, were wearing a long-sleeved shirt that did not feature the Spain flag trim found on the short-sleeved version.
The statement claimed Pique had cut the sleeves off his shirt like many players had done in the past simply for comfort.
However, after his latest run-in with supporters, Pique claim his love of playing for the national team had finally evaporated.
“I have tried everything, but I can’t bear this anymore,” he said. “Today’s issue of the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel.
“They’ve managed to make me lose the excitement of coming here and although after Russia I’ll only be 31, I’ll leave.”
Pique, capped 84 times for Spain, has won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 in a glittering international career.