As you may have seen, Gerard Piqué, FC Barcelona defender and fierce Catalan separatist (apparently), has decided to retire from international football (after the next World Cup - it’s de rigueur) over some trim, or lack thereof, on his Spain shirt.
Rot! It’s rot, I tell you! But let’s wind this back a touch...
So, Spain have a new Away kit. Well, a new Away shirt. Fifa, y’see, decided the fabulous blocky paint/pizza splatter thing from the Euros wasn’t plain enough, so the story goes. The shorts and socks were fine, so adidas, as is often seen with Confederations Cup kits, for example, have carried them over.
And the shirt, and newly formed kit, are both very nice. They bring to mind the one-off design worn at Brasil 2014, in the disastrous defeat to the Netherlands (you can only get that now!), and it’s very clean and classic and all those other things that became requirements thanks to Tailored By Umbro.
Oh, but it does have some trim. Well, the short-sleeved one has, and it looked like, in the recent match in Albania, Pique had cut it off, because he's that big ol' separatist, and he hates the red and yellow of the Spanish flag. ¡Visca Catalunya! et cetera.
But, really, it's rubbish. Yes, there is a red and yellow cuffy-cum-trimmy detail on the short-sleeved version of the new shirt, but Piqué wears long sleeves, and it was a long-sleeved shirt he mutilated to wear as a short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved baselayer, because the long sleeves were too short and were annoying him. I honestly kid you not; Gerard Pique insists on having a long-sleeved shirt, found this one uncomfortable when he put it on, decided he'd prefer a short-sleeved shirt, so cut off the lower part of the sleeves to make himself a short-sleeved version. Footballers, eh?
Then what? Well, did I mention Piqué wants Catalan independence? That's what they hate him for, anyway, those mainly Real Madrid-inclined Spain supporters. So, after wrongly accusing Piqué of cutting off some trim that's not present on the shirt he cut up - which arguably evokes the Catalan Senyera as much as the Spanish Rojigualda anyway - and holding this up as evidence of his lack of feeling for the nation that he has helped bag a European Championship and a World Cup, these fans got their wish. Sort of. Piqué's had enough of the criticism, and, in a fit of pique, I feel obliged to type, he's off. After the next World Cup. When he'll be in his thirties.
So, a farce of Frasier-esque proportions (oh, go on then: Of Shakespearean proportions) and the missing verse from Alanis Morissette's Ironic - the ironic thing is, some of this stuff is kinda ironic - and the tragedy of a perfectly good football shirt having its sleeves cut short and a career following suit, right? Not quite.
Not quite, because Gerard Piqué has eyes, and he has a brain. He also knows some football fans are idiots. So when he pulled on the bizarre, customisation-heavy outfit - as it turned out, more Wayne Rooney and Mathieu Flamini than Johan Cruyff or Fredi Kanouté - he must have realised what conclusion others would jump to, and I suspect he was primed with his response and heavily-weathered victim card. He may or may not have wanted out, but surely revelled in his moral high-ground afforded by adidas neglecting to fully embellish long-sleeved shirts.
So where does it leave us? Piqué remains a Spain player, with Bernabéu as the second barrel of his surname (check it). and may or may not retire after Russia 2018. The ailing long-sleeved football shirt, however, has seemingly been attacked, figuratively and literally, by a previously sympatico loyalist - Et tu, Piqué? - as the baselayer is given a great, and unexpected, boost in its surge towards world domination.
But isn't it ironic, don't you think?
Written by Jay (follow on Twitter).