Barcelona central defender Gerard Pique has revealed he will step down from representing Spain if his support for Catalan independence is a problem.
Barcelona central defender Gerard Pique has revealed he will step down from representing Spain if his support for Catalan independence is a problem for anyone in the Spanish football federation.
Pique played for Barca in Sunday's 3-0 win over Las Palmas, but the match was played behind closed doors after Spanish police injured more than 750 people who took to the polls to vote in a referendum for Catalan independence.
Security forces used rubber bullets and baton charges against voters after the Spanish government pledged to stop the poll, which had been declared illegal.
Speaking to Spanish TV, via Sky Sports, Pique admitted he was happy to step aside if people saw problems in him playing for Spain: "I go to play with the national team because I believe in democracy and there are a lot of people in Spain who don't agree with what has happened.
"The person who goes with the national team, isn't the most patriotic, you have to go and perform to your maximum. It's not a competition of patriotism, it's about going and giving all you can to win - that's how I understand it.
"If anyone in the federation believes I should not be there, I will step aside."
Pique went on to describe the win over Las Palmas in an empty stadium as his "worst experience as a professional", with the move being made because of the unrest in Catalonia.
He added: "After what has transpired it has been my worst experience as a professional. It's been a hard day for families, children, grandparents and the images speak for themselves. The protests didn't have any type of violence and the images have now been seen around the world.
"The club committee tried to postpone the game then they came to the dressing room and, as a club, we debated it and decided to play.
"There were arguments for and against playing, we took into account the points at stake. Las Palmas and La Liga wanted the game to be played and there's no point in going over it again. My opinion matters little, there were a lot of people in the dressing room who expressed theirs and in the end we decided to play.
"I understand those who didn't want to play and I don't think the 'Mes que un club' (club motto - means "more than a club") went before this decision but I understand those who didn't want it to be played.
"When you vote, you can vote yes, you can vote no or you can leave it blank. In this country, during Franco's regime, you couldn't vote and that's a right we need to defend. I feel Catalan and today I defend the people of Catalonia because there wasn't a single act of aggression and the police and civil guard have come and done what they've done."