The Spanish Football Federation's (RFEF) acting president, Juan Luis Larrea, has insisted that Gerard Piqué will not drop out of the Spain squad for the country's final two 2018 World Cup qualifiers, despite being at the centre of supporter unrest in the wake of Sunday's independence referendum in Catalonia.
Catalan defender Piqué, who is regularly jeered by Spain fans, was the target of abuse at an open training session held by La Roja on Monday, a day after casting his ballot in the controversial referendum and criticising police brutality against voters in the northeastern region.
Larrea: "Piqué won't leave the Spain camp"
"Piqué won't leave [the camp]. Unless he picks up an injury, he will stay with the squad," Larrea commented on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking after playing in FC Barcelona's behind-closed-doors win over Las Palmas on the day of the 1 October referendum, Piqué - a vocal supporter of the vote - told the media he would "step aside" from the Spain team if his views were deemed problematic by coach Julen Lopetegui or RFEF chiefs.
"If the manager or any director of the Federation thinks I'm a problem for the national team, I'll step aside before the World Cup," said an emotional Piqué, who has already stated his intention to quit international football after Russia 2018.
"No problem" between Piqué and Ramos, claims Larrea
However, Larrea refuted suggestions that the player's presence has caused tension within the Spain camp. "The atmosphere isn't strained at all; that's what I read in the press, but it isn't the case," he said.
He also denied that the often complicated relationship between Piqué and Spain defensive partner Sergio Ramos, captain of Barça's arch rivals Real Madrid, has broken down over the Catalan issue. The pair are "the same as ever" and there is "no problem" between them, he said.
Spain, who lead their World Cup qualifying section by three points, host Albania on Friday before closing out their Group G campaign in Israel on Monday.