A high profile advocate of Catlonia's right to an independence referendum, Barcelona's Gerard Pique was yesterday subjected to a tirade of abuse during an open training session with the Spanish national team.
With tensions running high throughout the country after clashes between the police and members of the public over a referendum for secession that's been deemed "illegal" by the Spanish government, Pique bore the brunt of fans' ire.
Training at a facility in Madrid, fans held up banners that labeled the 30-year-old centre back "Sickening." While others started a chant that translated to, "Pique, bastard, Spain is your nation!"
Pique, who has 91 caps for Spain and has won both the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championship, had previously said that he would leave the national side if he proved to be an annoyance or a distraction to the other members.
Despite the toxic environment around the Catalan, Spain's manager Spain's coach, Julen Lopetegui, defended Pique, telling Spanish radio station Cadena COPE:"The behaviour of Gerard has been exceptional.
"I wanted to see how he was and I saw he was motivated and enthusiastic. He's well and fired up, if it were not like that he wouldn't be with me."
However Lopetegui defended the decision to hold the training session in public, adding: "It would have been an error to train behind closed doors. The fans have the right to express themselves.
"I know the situation is unpleasant, but I ask people for a little reason and sanity."
It's 2017, Julen. You won't find any of that here.