Pique Reveals Retirement Plans Amid Row Over Jersey Sleeve

By Adebayo Williams

Spain centre back Gerard Pique has said he will retire from the national team after the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Barcelona defender said he had enough of unfair criticism from Spanish press hence his decision. Pique was accused of cutting his jersey’s sleeve to avoid flying the Spanish flag which was crested on the sleeve. The 29-year-old, who came under fire for publicly supporting Catalan independence from Spain, cut his sleeve in his country’s 2-0 win over Albania in a World Cup qualifying series.

“I’ve tried everything but I cannot take any more,” he 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.”

The RFEF also communicated their support for the centre-back.

“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 wore long sleeves.

“The player cut his sleeves with the sole purpose of playing more comfortably, like other internationals have done on many occasions.

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