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Pique to quit Spain team over political spat

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Spain's defender Gerard Pique (C), midfielder Thiago (2nd R) and defender Inigo Martinez (R) attend a training session at Loro Boici Stadium in Shkoder on October 8, 2016, on the eve of their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match against Albania.  / AFP PHOTO / GENT SHKULLAKU

Spain’s defender Gerard Pique (C), midfielder Thiago (2nd R) and defender Inigo Martinez (R) attend a training session at Loro Boici Stadium in Shkoder on October 8, 2016, on the eve of their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match against Albania. / AFP PHOTO / GENT SHKULLAKU

Spanish defender Gerard Pique has announced that he will end his international career after the 2018 World Cup amid renewed controversy over his political views.

The Barcelona star, who supports independence for Catalonia, came under fire again after Sunday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win against Albania. Pique, who played in the Spain team which won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European championships, was criticised in the Spanish media for allegedly removing the national colours from his playing strip.

The accusations were the last straw for the defender who has played 85 times for his country. “The World Cup in Russia is going to be my last tournament with the national team…,” he said, adding “the criticisms today have added to what has happened over the last few years.”



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