Gerard Pique has drawn the collective ire of the Spanish public, with his somewhat controversial words on Catalan independence.
A product of both La Masia and Catalunya, the defender admittedly holds strong nationalist sentiments for the Catalan state. Of late, his antics on the field (most notably a red card for berating an official) as well as off the field, have turned the spotlight back on him. Instead of assuming a diplomatic stance however, the 26-year-old has gone on the defensive, attacking his rivals in a press conference.
a I dona t regret my comments at all,” claimed the defender in a recent press conference , “Ia d do it 1,000 times over because Ia m like that. Ia ll always want things to go badly for Madrid and this is the rivalry which has always existed.”
The former Manchester United player added fuel to the fire, by saying that he wore a Buffon jersey, during Real’s semi final defeat to Juventus, just to show how much he loathed Real Madrid. The hatred it seems, stems not only from the rivalry shared between the two clubs, but its political context as well.
Matters were not made any less frosty by Sergio Ramos’ latest admissions, claiming his international colleague had not helped himself with his conduct. Despite forging a formidable partnership with the Real Madrid captain, Ramos is reported to have said to AS, “It’s clear that everyone makes mistakes and I’m the first to do so. I’ve made many mistakes. But it’s true that due to the rivalry that exists between Barcelona and Madrid, the latest actions don’t help with respect to the treatment he [Pique] has had.” Pique has admitted that the initial frosty relation has slowly thawed, but was quick to acknowledge that the Madrid man and him don’t always see eye to eye.
Pique is a Catalan boy, born and raised, and hence identifies with their way of life quite vociferously. His comments on Catalan independence are nothing out of the ordinary, as fellow Barca alums like Xavi and Pep Guardiola have also been vocal about the notion of a separate nation.
The lambasting that Pique has received from the Spanish support is however unfair. The Barcelona defender has re-iterated his allegiance to La Roja, citing recently, a I am not going to change my ways and I have nothing to apologise for. Quitting the national team is the last thing I would do. That would be giving in to those who whistle me for the wrong reasons.
a Ia ve always had the utmost commitment to the Spanish national team. As for the Bar a-Madrid rivalry, I wona t change. I feel very good, on both a personal and sporting level. Yesterday I went mushroom picking. I am a happy man.a
On many counts, the treatment levied by the Spanish public is grossly unfair. Pique has always been committed to the national team, performing at the highest level for them, for the best part of the last 8 years. It also stands to fact, that along with Iniesta, Ramos, Pedro and Busquets, Pique is one of the surviving members of all three of their consecutive international tournament triumphs. Moreover, his decision to play for the Catalan national team as well, have not (in any way) diminished his performances for the Spanish national side.
In the modern world however, off-field demeanour, as well as vocalness will always be latched onto by the media, in an unfavourable light more often than not. Although, Pique has behaved questionably sometimes, there is little doubt that he has been committed enough as a player, to not have drawn such public ire for his comments in this case.