Spain stars support Pique as Barcelona star subjected to more boos

The centre-back was once again the subject of jeers in La Roja's 2-0 win over Slovakia, but his team-mates and coach have voiced their backing of him
Spain's star players and coach have leapt to the defence of Gerard Pique after the defender was jeered throughout the side's 2-0 win over Slovakia on Saturday.

The central defender has proven to be a divisive figure with the national team, having drawn the ire of Real Madrid fans for criticising Cristiano Ronaldo, while many Spain fans are irked by his stance on Catalan independence.

Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier saw him booed by one part of the home side's support, though a large section cheered him on.

And Spain's leading figures all urged fans to put their opinions of him to one side and get behind the Barcelona player in future.

"The whistles at Pique are unfortunate," coach Vicente del Bosque said. "I do not understand it. I think it's lamentable.

"People come to watch football and he played very well today."

Meanwhile, Andres Iniesta insists the fans and the team need to show unity as they look to defend their European crown in France next year.

"I would like the whistles at Pique to stop," he told Teledeporte. "All of us have to go in the same direction."

Jordi Alba, another Barca team-mate, insists Pique does not deserve the jeers because he gives his all for La Roja.

"People are free to say whatever they want. Whenever Pique has been called up for the national team, he is the first one there, he told us it's a privilege to play for the team. 

"The people are free to voice their opinions, and they have done so with whistles and applause, but Pique is very committed to the team."

And Santi Cazorla cannot understand why he receives such criticism from the nation's own fans.

"Pique is fundamental for us. He is living in a strange situation, because nobody understands it," he added. "Hopefully it will end soon."