Gerard Pique is feeling the heat from Madrid-based soccer fans.
The Barcelona defender, who voted in Sunday’s Catalonian independence referendum and has on numerous occasions declared his support for an independent Catalonian state, took the field with the Spanish National Team in Madrid on Monday and was roundly jeered and booed by the fans in attendance.
Many fans brought signs with phrases against Pique and he was whistled when he walked on and off the field. The training session lasted just 23 minutes.
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Pique was in tears after Barcelona’s win on Sunday over Las Palmas, which was played in front of an empty Camp Nou stadium.
“I think I can continue. But if the board really thinks I’m a problem, I will take a step back and leave the national team before 2018,” Pique reportedly said after the game. “There are many people in Spain who disagree with what happened today and believe in democracy. The board tried to suspend the match, but it wasn’t possible. We debated it and the club decided we should play. I am and I feel Catalan, today more than ever. I am proud of the behavior of the people of Catalonia. Voting is a right that must be defended.”
It’s still up in the air over whether the former Manchester United defender will start for Spain in its upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Spain faces Albania on Friday in Alicante, a little more than five hours south of Barcelona.
From there, Spain finishes the first stage of World Cup qualifying on October 9 against Israel in Jerusalem.