Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has defended Gerard Pique from critics who question his loyalty to the national team because of his support for a disputed referendum on Catalan independence.
“Gerard gives it his all each and every time he plays with us,” Lopetegui said Friday. “I judge players’ commitment to the national team by their behavior. That is where I put my focus and in that sense I have no doubts about Pique.”
Pique posted a message on social media on Thursday calling for people in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia to participate peacefully in Sunday’s vote that police have been ordered by courts to stop.