Gerard Pique Offers to Quit Spain Team Amid Catalan Referendum Troubles

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 2, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 01:  Gerard Pique of Barcelona looks on prior to the La Liga match between Barcelona and Las Palmas at Camp Nou on October 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was reduced to tears after his side beat Las Palmas 3-0 in a behind-closed-doors La Liga match on Sunday, the same day hundreds were injured attempting to vote in Catalan's independence referendum. The veteran also offered to quit Spain's national team if his stance on the matter becomes an issue. 

Rather than have their fixture postponed, Barca were forced to play in front of an empty Camp Nou. Although the hosts emerged 3-0 victors, a teary-eyed Pique described his pain hearing reports Spanish police had injured more than 460 people, per MailOnline's Pete Jenson:

"There was no act of aggression from the people today and yet the police have acted in the way that they have acted today.

"It was very difficult to play without our supporters and after all that has happened throughout Catalonia. It was my worst experience as a player."

BBC News reported on Sunday that the number of injured people was actually 761, per the Catalan emergency services, and footage showed Spanish military police using batons and rubber pellets on potential voters.

Pique went on to say he has "no problem in stepping aside and leaving the [national] team" if his views present a problem to manager Julen Lopetegui or the Spanish Football Association:

Pro-referendum protests drew fierce police responses in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, and the masses turned out to vote despite the fact Spain's Partido Popular party declared the referendum illegal.

Pique has been touted as a future Barcelona club president.

The 30-year-old went on to take a shot at Mariano Rajoy, the current Prime Minister of Spain, per Goal's Ben Hayward:

Former Barcelona coach and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, a former Catalonia international himself, gave Catalunya Radio and RAC 1 (h/t Marca) his take on Sunday's fixture: "I would not have played the match. And if we did have to play it, then not behind closed doors."

Guardiola is another Barcelona alumnus who has argued for Catalan's right to discuss independence in the past, and he implored Spain to understand there is "a population which wishes to decide its own future."