Gerard Pique sets Spain retirement date amidst criticism for his political views

Gerard Pique sets Spain retirement date amidst criticism for his political views

SB Nation: NFL

Fans saw his jersey modification as a political statement, and Pique would rather not listen to that kind of criticism anymore.

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Gerard Pique is, by any measure, one of Spain's greatest ever players. He's also Barcelona's chief anti-Madrid troll and vocally pro-Catalonia, which has made him unpopular with a certain subsection of fans. That seems to have contributed to his decision to retire from international soccer after the 2018 World Cup, when he'll be 31 years old.

"I always give everything I have on the field," said Pique, "but there are people who think it's better if I'm not here, "It's not a ‘heat of the moment' decision, I've given a lot of thought to this. It's not because of what happened today, it's because I always give my best on the field and, although there are some people who have thanked me, some don't think it's OK for me to be here."

The latest controversy that Pique was referring to was the criticism he received for cutting off the sleeves on his shirt. He says he cut them off because they were bothering him, but some fans were offended because the part he cut off had the colors of the Spanish flag. Because of Pique's previous pro-Catalonia comments, the move was taken by many to be a political statement, which Pique refutes.

And now, thanks to political disagreements, Spain is going to lose a great player while he still has plenty left to give.

Goal of the day

Alfred Finnbogason's goal to put Iceland 2-0 up on Turkey. (r/soccer)

In the news

Wayne Rooney will be benched by England on Tuesday. (BBC)

James Rodriguez got death threats from morons who think he's faking an injury. (ESPN FC)

CONCACAF is planning a massive shakeup of their qualifying process and CCL. (MLS)

Sergio Ramos picked up an injury for Spain and could miss six weeks. (AS)

Sergio Aguero is hurt again. (Marca)

Newcastle star Rolando Aarons got caught up in a bar fight and arrested. (Telegraph)

A few teams would like to bring Michael Bradley back to Serie A. Jurgen Klinsmann would certainly appreciate that. (SI)

You should be reading

Jonas Giaever on the failings of the Norwegian national team. (These Football Times)

Jamie Jackson on the corruption in the transfer system. (Guardian)

Doug McIntyre on Lynden Gooch, who looks likely to make his USMNT debut this week. (ESPN FC)

What happened this weekend

The Western New York Flash won the NWSL title in dramatic fashion.

Ethan Horvath impressed in his USMNT debut.

Germany was fantastic with Mario Götze up top.

The Colorado Rapids clinched a top two seed in the West with their win. (MLS)

You can find scores, recaps and tables from World Cup qualifying here. (FIFA)

What to watch on Monday (click for listings, all times ET)

UEFA World Cup qualifying (2:45 p.m.) -- The best game is Netherlands vs. France.

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