Pique vows to quit Spain after 2018 World Cup

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Gerard Pique has long been a controversial figure within the ranks of the Spanish national team.

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His latest criticism from the Spanish faithful could very well force the defender into early retirement from La Furia Roja, though.

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During Sunday’s 2-0 win over Albania, Pique came under fire for allegedly cutting off the sleeves of his jersey, an action that many believed to be tied to the fact that the 29-year-old is openly in favor of Catalan independence.

But now, the Barcelona centerback says that the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be his last as he continues to be chased by supporters and media alike.

“I’ve tried everything but I cannot take any more,” Pique said in a statement released by the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF). “Today with the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. They’ve made it so I’ve lost the excitement of coming here, and although after Russia I’ll only be 31, I’ll leave.”

Following the match, Pique provided proof to media members that the jersey he had had the sleeves removed from didn’t bear the Spanish national flag.

The RFEF also released a statement at the conclusion of Sunday’s win, as the federation remains firmly behind its star defender.

“The Royal Spanish Football Federation wants to show their support for the Spanish international Gerard Pique regarding the controversy caused by the cutting of long sleeves of his shirt in the match played against Albania,” a statement read. “Contrary to what was indicated by some malicious comments – that the player cut his sleeves to avoid wearing a top with the national colours – the RFEF wishes to clarify that this trimming only exists in the Adidas short-sleeve shirt, and not in the long sleeves, which is what Pique wore in the match.

“This lack of trimming can be seen on the shirt of his partner, Sergio Ramos, who also worse long sleeves. The player cut his sleeves with the sole purpose of playing more comfortably, like other internationals have done on many occasions. Unfair criticism of Gerard Pique has caused him to declare that he will leave the Spanish team after the World Cup in Russia.”