New Delhi: Spanish defender Gerard Pique has announced that he will retire from international football following the 2018 World Cup after he was criticised by fans for wearing a short sleeve in the match against Albania.

Spain registered a 2-0 win against Albania, but fans who watched the match expressed outrage over the fact that Pique had adorned a shirt without the sleeves which normally has the Spanish flag engraved on its edge. They claimed that Pique had purposely cut the sleeves short so that it could not bear the Spanish flag, an accusation which has been exacerbated by the fact that he has publicly backed Catalan independence.

After the match, Pique said that he had cut the sleeves because it did not show the same flag design and also expressed that these accusations had pushed him too far.

“I’ve tried everything but I cannot take any more,” he said in a statement.

“Today with the sleeves is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. They’ve made it so I’ve lost the excitement of coming here, and although after Russia I’ll only be 31, I’ll leave.”

After the controversy was blown out of proportion, the Royal Spanish Football Federation gave an official statement, “Contrary to what was indicated by some malicious comments – that the player cut his sleeves to avoid wearing a top with the national colours – the RFEF wishes to clarify that this trimming only exists in the Adidas short-sleeve shirt, and not in the long sleeves, which is what Pique wore in the match. This lack of trimming can be seen on the shirt of his partner, Sergio Ramos, who also worse long sleeves.”

Gerard Pique plays as defender of FC Barcelona.

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