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Spanish defender Pique decides to quit international soccer after 'shirt sleeve' controversy

Pique came under the radar during the Sunday's 2-0 win in the World Cup qualifier against Albania after he claims that he had cut off the sleeves from his shirt which bore Spain's colours of yellow and red. Photograph: (AFP)

Reuters Oct 10, 2016, 05.27 PM (IST)

Spain defender Gerard Pique has grown "tired" of the criticism against him and has announced plans of retiring from international soccer after World Cup 2018.

"Yes, I'm tired of it and the World Cup in Russia is going to be my last commitment with the Spain team and then I hope I can be left in peace," Pique said on Sunday.

Pique came under the radar during the Sunday's 2-0 win in the World Cup qualifier against Albania after he claims that he had cut off the sleeves from his shirt which bore Spain's colours of yellow and red. The Barcelona centre-back clarified after the match that he had, in fact, cut off the sleeves from a different shirt that did not have the flag design.

"I cut my shirt because the sleeves were very short and they were bothering me. I've tried everything but I can't take it any more, the thing with the sleeve is the straw that has broken the camel's back."

The 28-year-old's relationship with Spain supporters has been rocky because of his repeated jibes at Real Madrid and his support for a referendum on Catalan independence.

The Royal Spanish Football Federation defended the Barcelona-born defender's action of cutting the sleeves in a 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 wore long sleeves," a statement read, goal.com reported.

Pique has made 86 appearances for Spain and won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and Euro 2012. He was also present in Spain's disappointing campaigns in the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)

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