Football: Pique commits to staying with Spain despite fierce criticism

Spanish national team defender and Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique is backing off considerations to quit the team after mounting criticism over his vote in Catalonia's controversial independence referendum.

MADRID (REUTERS) - Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says he is here to stay.

The soccer star announced on Wednesday (Oct 4) that he is committed to the Spanish national team, despite criticism from fans after he voted in Catalonia’s controversial independence referendum.

Pique told reporters that he considered leaving but decided to play on.

“If I were to leave now, it would be letting the people, and I don’t think they are a majority, who insult me and boo me, win and I don’t want to give them the luxury of quitting,” said Pique.

Pique voted in the controversial referendum, but says he hass never spoken out in favour of Catalonian independence, simply saying that his home region should decide on its own future.

Pique was booed in an open training session with Spain on Monday (Oct 2), with fans calling for his exit.

Pique has played in 91 games for Spain, helping his country win the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.

He says he has never given less than 100 per cent.

"I have always been completely committed to the national team in every sense. It hurts me to know that people doubt my commitment,” he added.