Xavi blasts ’embarrassing’ Gerard Pique criticism

Xavi has backed Gerard Pique’s decision to quit Spain duty after the 2018 World Cup, labelling criticism aimed at the defender as “embarrassing”.

The centre-back announced that the World Cup in Russia will be his last major international tournament in the aftermath of Spain’s 2-0 qualifying win over Albania.

Pique was accused by some of cutting the regulation short-sleeved jersey in order to remove the trim on the shirts that bears the design of the Spanish flag, although the 29-year-old produced proof after the match that he had in fact cut the sleeves of a shirt that did not have the same flag design.

The Barcelona centre-back has regularly courted criticism due to his public backing of Catalan independence, as well as often stoking the fires with Clasico rivals Real Madrid.

Pique stated that the latest furore was one too many, and his former Barca and Spain team-mate Xavi believes that a lack of respect pushed him over the edge.

Speaking to RAC1, the 2010 World Cup winner said: “I find this whole debate completely absurd. It’s embarrassing.

“Anyone who hasn’t been following this would think he’d ripped the badge from his shirt.

“Nobody forces anyone to do anything and if you don’t want to play, like Oleguer back in the day, then you don’t.

“Now, if they call you up and you accept, like Pique did, you do it to be part of the team. The objective is the same for everyone: to win.

“So much importance is given to the few idiots who speak out and say stupid things. These accusations that he lacks commitment, or that if you cover the colours of the flag on your socks… I suffered from that myself, although I took it light-heartedly.

“I don’t know [how he is taking it], but he’s probably sick of everything. They’ve been disrespectful with Pique and they’ve accused him of everything.

“His reaction is understandable. He’s grown tired and lost enthusiasm and it makes sense to me. Nobody forces you to play for the national team.

“Carles Puyol and I have suffered it too for years. Pique took it seriously. He has the right to say he’s fed up of it and doesn’t want to go any more. That’s totally fine.”

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