In the middle of the controversy surrounding Gerard Piqué and, specifically, the supposed clash between his "Catalanness" and his commitment to the Spanish national team, the Barça centre-back has today given a press conference to calm things down. "It's impossible to doubt my commitment", he said, as one of the main reasons he should continue playing with Spain. He also said that the "independence movement isn't against Spain" and spoke openly about the independence of Catalonia.
Independence of Catalonia
Without wanting to be drawn on whether he is for or against Catalonia becoming an independent country, the Barça player said that he is a "global figure" but that his opinion doesn't matter. "Catalonia is like an 18-year old that wants to leave home. Either Spain negotiates or the child leaves", he said by way of explaining the situation.
Regardless, he said that any independence supporter can still perfectly well represent Spain. "I believe that an independence supporter could play for the Spanish team," he said. In fact, he hasn't considered a future in which he might have to choose between the two countries: "Whether I play with Catalonia or with Spain is something I haven't considered, but I suppose that there should be a process of two or three years and then I wouldn't have to decide."
He even brought up his two children to explain his feelings: "My children are Colombian, Lebanese, Catalan and Spanish. We live in a world in which countries are now of the least importance," he said.
Beyond all that, he added that he still thinks the two countries separate "would be weaker at the start", but defended the right of citizens to decide their future.
Supporting the referendum
"I don't regret anything I said on Sunday, because it's what I feel. It's impossible that we all think the same", he said with regards to his words attacking the brutal police repression seen in Catalonia during the otherwise peaceful vote. "I'm in favour of voting, but I respect others who think we can't vote like Rafa Nadal. With respect and dialogue you always reach a good place", he continued with respect to last Sunday's referendum.
"In the end, we're all people and we all have our own opinions. It's impossible that we all think the same," he said. "My opinion doesn't matter. There's a part of Spain that wants to leave. What matters is that the politicians speak and do their job", said Piqué during his remarks in the press room at the Ciudad de Fútbol de Las Rozas, the complex that belongs to the Spanish national federation.
But his opinion and rhetoric did seem influence by the advice he'd been given to leave aside a controversy that does nothing but harm his international career. "There are people who advise me to not speak about politics any more, but I've just said that the people should vote: yes, no or blank", he said during his press conference which lasted about half an hour.
"There's a very serious political problem in Spain. Either a solution is found with dialogue or it goes ever further", he said, referring to both Catalan and Spanish political leaders. He argued that "dialogue can achieve everything".
One of the other topics he mentioned was yesterday's speech by king Felipe VI. "The king's speech? We were playing a card game and I didn't see it..." He did, however, comment his sadness that one of the leading Spanish figures internationally didn't even mention the more than 800 victims injured by the Spanish police's actions.
Problems in the Spanish team
Whistled and insulted since he arrived at the national team camp in Las Rozas, this time he didn't want to stay quiet. "I don't like that the people of the team are against you, nor receiving insults nor anything," he said.
"I want to leave the Spanish team in the best way possible," he said, while admitting that it's true that "I've considered stepping aside". Nonetheless, a thoughtful Piqué said: "Leaving now would validate those who are whistling, which I don't believe is the majority of Spain".
"The people who are doubting whether to whistle me, listen to me. The whistles hurt me for my teammates, they don't deserve to go through this." This was a new statement of intentions for this to not affect other players of the Spanish national team. "We tend to take everything to fanaticism or sentimentalism. We're a group of people that want to win so Spain can win," he added.
He said they are all very influential footballers and public figures, capable of having admirers and detractors, but "I understand that many footballers don't speak about politics: it's a problem". About all he wanted to make it clear that he wants to be understood: "I want that they understand me if I want to express what I feel. Why can anyone give their opinion and footballers not?"