The Spanish football Federation (FEF) has published a revised date and setting for their friendly against England on Sefútbol, the Spanish national side's official page. The new date is one day earlier than previously set, November 13, and the game will be played in Alicante, far from the Santiago Bernabéu. Del Bosque and the FEF feared a hostile reception for Gerard Piqué in Madrid.
The Catalan footballer is also said to be reconsidering his involvement with La Roja, while his teammates and manager are circling the wagons around the central defender.
Piqué’s problems began with the provocative “Thanks Kevin, it all began with you” comment during Barcelona's Liga celebrations, which didn’t play well in the media and infuriated Madrid fans. ‘Kevin’ referred to Kevin Roldán, a Colombian ‘reggeaton’ musician who played at Cristiano Ronaldo’s birthday and published pictures of himself partying with Real Madrid players.
The problem there was that the team had lost 4-0 earlier that day to Atlético Madrid. The fallout affected Madrid in the final stretch of la Liga, and Barcelona took the title.
A few days after the Barcelona celebrations where Piqué made that comment the national side were playing in León and the whistling began every time Piqué touched the ball. Del Bosque warned at that match that “you have to cut these things at the root. Anyone who whistles at Piqué is whistling the entire team”.
The coach also warned that “Piqué’s participation isn’t up for debate”. The Catalan later joined the squad for the Belarussian match despite already being on holidays with Barcelona. “He didn’t take off, which he could have done”, noted the FEF, attempting to mitigate in the controversy.
Piqué, however, went back to being Piqué after the European Supercup where he was recorded saying “Let’s do a victory lap, the madridistas can go fuck themselves, let them watch”, which led to more whistling in Oviedo and forced a usually reticent Del Bosque out of his traditional prudency: “This is not acceptable. It’s shameful that the fans should whistle anyone in the Selección. I hope it never happens again”. The other internationals, from captain Casillas to the players in the Premier League like Cazorla and Cesc Fábregas also came out in support of the embattled defender. “Between us all, we have to change this”, said Iker. Cazorla called the situation “incomprehensible” and Fabregas “unfair”. Jordi Alba and Pedro registered their indignation in the post-match press conference, “I don’t like seeing Piqué whistled, he’s given everything” said Alba.
His ex-Barça teammate agreed: “Honestly, I don’t think that it’s really affecting him. He’s one of our best players, he had a great game against Slovakia.”
Spain will play their last two Euro 2016 qualifiers next month in the Stade Josy Barthel against Luxembourg and in Kiev against the Ukraine. The Luxembourg game will be an important one for the ‘Piqué case’. The insistent whistling of the Barça player has led the Federación (principally Del Bosque) to a decision to move the England friendly from the Santiago Bernabéu to the José Rico Pérez stadium in Alicante. It is the game in which Spain are going to debut their new Fance 2016 jersey, and the officials have decided not to court controversy by giving a certain selection fans the chance to express their discontent to the player.
The FEF have decide to make things easier for themselves along with Del Bosque and Piqué by playing the match away from the Bernabéu. It has now been officially confirmed and Villar has avoided what might have been a monumental show of animosity against the player in Madrid; and what that might have meant for the future.