La Liga

Furious Pique stands by referee criticism after alleged Tebas gesture

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique says his criticism of officiating in LaLiga was backed up by events in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Villarreal.

The champions suffered another slip in the title race at Estadio de la Ceramica, although Lionel Messi at least rescued a point with a 90th-minute free-kick.

After the final whistle, Pique was seen looking up in the direction of the presidential box while pointing to his eye and shouting “Did you see it? You, yes, you!” before walking down the tunnel.

It is claimed in the Spanish media that the centre-back’s comments were aimed at LaLiga president Javier Tebas as a result of his frustration at Barca’s treatment at the hands of referees this season.

However, when asked to explain the incident, Pique simply said: “The person to whom I said those words and made that gesture knows it was for them.

“I still believe in what I say and every week makes me more in the right. You could clearly see it, I think it’s very clear what happened on the pitch.

“You have to be careful because they analyse everything. But let them analyse it [my comments] and waste time on that. That’s their right.”

Pique was furious with the officiating during Barca’s 2-1 Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Thursday and was left aghast at Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva’s failure to spot two handballs from Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano inside the penalty area, one of which looked to be deliberate.

Although he acknowledged that Javier Mascherano could have been penalised for a similar offence, Pique felt that the hosts had been hugely fortunate.

“There were two very clear handballs,” he said. “I also saw Mascherano’s, but the intention of one and the intention of the other…”

The result means that Real Madrid would move eight points clear of Barca if the leaders win their game in hand, but Pique is refusing to give up on the title.

“We came here to play a great game, but we weren’t able to win,” he said. “Now we have to try to get through on Wednesday [in the second leg against Athletic] and play a good game against Las Palmas [on Saturday].

“We played better than them, we were superior. The league is not lost, but we have to change some things.”

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