Gerard Pique made headlines after Barcelona’s January fixture against Espanyol, not for the 2-0 victory or his performance in the match, but for rubbing some salt in the wounds already inflicted.
The Barca center-back referred to their opponents as ‘Espanyol of Cornella,’ a comment which attracted wide criticisms from football fans around the world, and particularly, the Spanish FA.
While speaking to newsmen in a post-match interview, Pique made reference to Espanyol on three occasions but chose not to call them by their traditional name. Instead, he poked fun at the team’s new geographical location.
“It was a smooth sail. I can’t say we suffered much, but if we did, it only proves how true it is that Espanyol de Cornella always make things difficult for us,” he started.
“We started very well with the two goals and got the maximum points. That’s the most pleasing story.”
When asked by reporters why he insisted on branding their opponents “Espanyol de Cornella,” the 31-year-old footballer responded: “No special reason for that. That’s there name too, Espanyol de Cornella, they’re from Cornella right?”
The Spanish FA’s Competition Committee on Wednesday said they have decided to withdraw all pending charges against Gerard, adding that the football body have finally approved freedom of expression for all players.
However, the FA criticized Gerard, a former Manchester United player, for disrespecting Los Periquitos with the name “Espanyol de Cornella”.
“His comments were clumsy, untimely and unfortunate,” local media reports confirmed.
“Those statements are not a model of discretion and they are ineffective in consolidating the sport, love, peace, respect and fairness, except creating ample room for social confrontation.
“It is unarguable that Gerard’s comments did not reflect reality, but they can nourish confrontation and this has been proven since his denunciation of Espanyol, Cornella City Council and LaLiga.”