Piqué: "No-one can doubt my commitment to the Spain team"
Gerard Piqué spoke the media on Wednesday in a bid to resolve the tension surrounding him in the wake of the Catalan referendum.Betis vs Real Madrid live stream online
Gerard Piqué faced the media on Wednesday in a bid to diffuse the rising tension surrounding the Spain player after Sunday's Catalan independence referendum.
The Catalan defender, who has publicly supported the northeastern region's right to vote on secession, was booed by Spain fans at an open training session on Monday, amid reports of a rift within the squad - particularly between Piqué and international defensive partner Sergio Ramos - and suggestions he could leave the camp before Friday's World Cup qualifier against Albania.
Gerard Piqué press conference: as it happened
13:30: That's the end of the press conference.
13:29: Piqué: "I want people to see that I defend what I think, but I respect and understand that there are many people who think differently. We have to sit down and dialogue - not just politicans, but all people."
13:27: What has hurt you the most? "What has hurt me the most is [the effect on] my team-mates. That's why I'm sitting here now."
13:26: How would you react to Catalan independence? Would you be happy? "What does it matter how I react? I can have my opinion, but this goes far beyond what my opinion is. There are many who want independence, and many who don't. What's important is dialogue: that the politicans do their job and find a solution."
13:23: Piqué: "What I want right now is to play a good game on Friday [against Albania]. I think that's much more of a priority."
13:20: "Dialogue brings people closer together," Piqué says. He compares the desire for independence in Catalonia to that of an 18-year-old son who wants to leave his parents' home: "If you talk to him, maybe he won't leave."
13:17: Piqué is asked which national team he'd choose if Catalonia achieved independence: "I don't know what would happen. It's a scenario that I haven't considered. But if that happened, there would be a process of three, four years [before Catalan independence became a reality] like Brexit - so I'd be 33 or so, and I don't think I'd have to make that decision, so I haven't considered it."
13:15: Piqué is asked if he's considered retiring from the Spain team early: "I've been playing for Spain for almost ten years - I don't want to leave by the back door."
13:12: Piqué is asked if he wants Catalonia to be independent: "That's the million-dollar question. I can't answer that. Footballers are global figures, and I can't position myself on one side. Right now, my answer to that is not important. We're in a difficult political situation and the only way forward is through dialogue or this problem is going to get worse. Through dialogue anything can be achieved."
13:11: Piqué is asked about Sergio Ramos, in the wake of reports that the pair's relationship has broken down: "The Ramos thing is a lie - we get on phenomenally. We're going to be partners in a business venture that I proposed to him."
13:10: Piqué says he can understand why his team-mates might be growing tired of the issue - "that's why I've come out", he says, so that his colleagues don't have to keep on having to field questions about it.
13:08: Piqué: "Even if we disagree, what is most important is that we respect each other and have dialogue."
13:06: Piqué: "I've never positioned myself on one side or the other. All I've said is that the people have to vote."
13:05: Piqué: "I think someone who is pro-independence can play for the Spain team. If there is no Catalan national team and you don't have anything against Spain, you think Spain is great and you think the people are great, why can't you play for them?" He stresses that he's not talking about himself there.
13:02: Piqué: "It's impossible that we can all have the same opinion - if I'm in favour of having the chance to vote [on Catalan independence], I also respect the fact that there are people who think differently to me."
13:01: "No-one can doubt my commitment to the Spanish national team," Piqué declares.
12:58: "I'm here to make myself clear and because the coach asked me to," says Piqué, "and I'll try to help the team in any way I can."
12:57: Piqué is asked if he has contemplated quitting the Spain team. He says the first day - when he was on the end of abuse from Spain fans during the team's open training session - was difficult, but thinks it is a challenge for him.
12:55: Out comes Piqué...
12:45: Good afternoon! It has been announced that Spain defender Gerard Piqué will be giving a press conference in a few minutes' time. We'll bring you details of what the Barcelona player has to say as soon as he appears.