Xavi hits out at "absurd" and "embarrassing" treatment of Gerard Pique

The two were team-mates for Barcelona and Spain

Spain, Xavi, Gerard Pique

Spain's Xavi Hernandez, right, warms up beside his fellow teammate Gerard Pique, during a training session of his team prior to the Euro 2012 soccer quarterfinal match between Spain and France, in Gniewino, Poland, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi has backed his former club and international colleague Gerard Pique after a shirt controversy that has led to his decision to retire from Spain duty after the 2018 World Cup campaign.

Pique had been accused of cutting off parts of his Spain jersey that contained the colours of the Spanish flag.

However, it later transpired that the sleeves that he cut did not in fact have the flag on them.

The 29-year-old World Cup and multiple Champions League winner has often faced criticism and booing from Spain supporters because of his pro-Catalan views and rivalry with Real Madrid.

Xavi has backed Pique's decision to retire from international football after 2018 and described the situation as "embarrassing".

"I find this whole debate completely absurd. It's embarrassing," the Qatar-based  told RAC1.

"Anyone who hasn't been following this would think he'd ripped the badge from his shirt.

"They've been disrespectful with Pique and they've accused him of everything.

"His reaction is understandable. He's grown tired and lost enthusiasm and it makes sense to me. Nobody forces you to play for the national team.

"Carles Puyol and I have suffered it too for years. Pique took it seriously. He has the right to say he's fed up of it and doesn't want to go any more. That's totally fine."