Spain defender Gerard Pique has said he will quit international football following the 2018 World Cup after admitting the criticism he received over modifying his national team shirt this weekend was the final straw.
The Barcelona defender came under fire on social media for cutting short the long sleeves of his shirt for Spain's World Cup qualifier in Albania, with suggestions it was done to avoid wearing the band showing the country's flag colours of red and yellow.
So Pique cut the 🇪🇸 stripes off his short-sleeves. He just can't stay without causing a stir.— M•A•J (@UItraSuristic) October 9, 2016
P.S: Ramos has rolled up his long-sleeves. pic.twitter.com/NAN25DVs5G
Pique has been booed by Spain fans in the past for comments about Real Madrid and other subjects, and the 29-year-old has said enough is enough and announced after Sunday's 2-0 win in Shkoder his intention to leave Julen Lopetegui's team in two years' time.
He said in quotes reported by AS: "Yes, it's tiring. The World Cup in Russia is going to be my last tournament with the Spanish national team and I hope it will go calmly.
"This is not a decision I've taken today, but from a while back. I've always tried to give it everything, I think there can be little doubt about that.
"There are clearly people who feel it would be better if I'm not here. I'm excited about playing in Julen's team and for that reason I'm not going to pack things in today. We've started together and we'll finish together."
Pique, who helped La Roja win the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, added in a statement on the Spanish Football Federation's website: "I have tried everything, but I can't bear this any more, today's issue of the sleeves is the final straw. They've managed to make me lose the excitement of coming here and although after Russia I'll only be 31, I'll leave."
VIDEO:Pique explaining that he had cut shorten his long sleeves to play more comfortably & that long sleeves don't have the Spain flag on it pic.twitter.com/XjjDdCLdKo— Barca News Forum (@BarcaNewsForum) October 10, 2016
The Spanish federation (RFEF) has defended the former Manchester United defender's actions, pointing out that the long-sleeve shirt Pique modified did not have trims with Spain colours on the arms anyway.
A statement read: "The Royal Spanish Football Federation wishes to show its support to the international footballer Gerard Pique about the controversy regarding the cut made on his jersey in the match against Albania.
"Some malicious comments... accused (Pique) of cutting the sleeves of the jersey to avoid wearing the band with the national colours. In this regard, the RFEF wishes to explain that said band on the Adidas jersey only exists in the short sleeve version, and not on the long sleeve, which is the one Pique used in the match.
"The absence of the bands can be seen on the intact version of the jersey worn by team-mate Sergio Ramos, who did use the long sleeve. Gerard Pique cut the sleeve with the sole aim of playing more comfortably, the same way other players have done on many occasions."