Ramos defends relationship with Pique
Spain and Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos says his relationship with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique is good and will not be affected by the Catalan crisis.
There has been widespread unrest and violence in Catalonia over a referendum on independence from the rest of Spain, but Ramos insists he does not want to mix sports with politics.
Pique insisted this week that he will not quit the Spain national team after being booed by his own fans in training ahead of their next World Cup Qualifier against Albania.
Ahead of the tie, Ramos said: “Fans have the right to express their opinion. They are free in that regard.
“We have a great relationship, despite our different viewpoints and personalities. Mixing politics and sport is a mistake.
“As a Spaniard, I don’t like what’s happening, but let’s hope it all gets resolved quickly and we can get back to living in a free democracy and enjoying sports, which is what makes us all happy.”
“It’s true that this week hasn’t been easy for any of us because politics and sports got mixed.
“I’m Spain’s captain and I wanted to talk first with my coach and with Pique and stand aside of this, as I said before it would have been a mistake if we mixed both sports and politics because above everything we have a common goal that is the qualification for Russia World Cup and that’s the objective of the whole team,
“Gery (Gerard Pique) already said it the other day, we have a very good relationship despite our nature and the way that we think or feel, and not only with him but with the whole group, each one of us are different and we have the right to think and feel differently, if we stay all in the same boat and go in the same direction we shouldn’t have any problem.”
Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui also says he wants the team to stay focused just on football ahead of their World Cup Qualifier with Albania.
He said: “Obviously we are human and we keep up with everything that’s going on, but we also have responsibilities and our responsibility now is here.
“We have a very important goal to achieve and that responsibility compels us to be 100 per cent focused on the match.
“Right now we are not thinking about the rest, we are just thinking about the match against Albania, we are staking the qualification for the World Cup and to make the last year and a half work of this players count.”