Amid violence, Camp Nou game 'worst of my life,' says star Gerard Pique

    Barcelona's game against Las Palmas was played in an empty stadium, with the club's slogan -- "more than a club" -- clearly visible on the seats.

    Story highlights

    • Gerard Pique concerned by violent response to Catalan vote
    • Sunday's game vs. Las Palmas "the worst in my life"
    • Might consider early international retirement
    • Game against Las Palmas played in empty stadium

    (CNN)Gerard Pique has played hundreds of games for Barcelona, but Sunday's 3-0 victory over Las Palmas was the "worst professional experience" he's had, according to the defender, who was born in the Catalan city.

    Pique's bleak outlook had nothing to do with sporting reasons and everything to do with the political and constitutional crisis facing Spain after an independence referendum descended into chaos when police launched a widespread and violent crackdown.
      That ensured Sunday's game took place in an empty Camp Nou stadium after the national league refused to postpone it.
      An outspoken supporter of independence for the region, Pique voiced his fears over how the vote was handled by the Spanish government and said he might consider retiring from the national side if the violence continues.
      "It was very difficult to play the game," the defender, who has won six league titles with Barcelona, told reporters after the game.
      "We have had seven years of demonstrations without violence and what happened today has been seen around the world."
      Almost 850 people were injured as riot police raided polling stations on Sunday, dragging away voters and firing rubber bullets.
      The Catalan government said it had earned the right to independence from Spain after results showed 90% of those who voted were in favor of a split.
      But amid an unexpectedly harsh response from Spanish police to the vote, which was declared illegal by Spain's top court, turnout was under 50%.
      The Spanish north eastern region has its own language, culture, and a degree of political autonomy

      'I couldn't believe it'

      Barca's game against Las Palmas was played out in tense circumstances following the decision to ban fans from the Camp Nou.
      Las Palmas showed its opposition to a breakup of Spain as players took to the pitch with small Spanish flags sewn onto their jerseys.
      Barcelona's players, meanwhile, wore red and yellow shirts -- the colors of Catalonia -- before reverting to the club's normal strip for the match.
      With 91 caps, Pique is one of Spain's most experienced footballers. He was part of sides that won the World Cup in 2010 and European Cup in 2012 and, despite already announcing he will retire from international football after the 2018 World Cup, said recent events might force him to do so sooner.
      "I think I can continue going with the national team because I truly believe there are many people in Spain totally against the events that took place today in Catalonia and that believe in democracy," said the 30-year-old.
      "If not, I will not go. If anyone in the federation thinks I am a problem I don't have a problem in stepping aside and retiring from international football before 2018."
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      Spain is scheduled to play a World Cup qualifier against Albania at the Estadio José Rico Pérez in Alicante on Friday.
      Pique, who posted a photo of himself voting on his social media accounts, also admitted his shock at the Spanish government's reaction to the vote.
      "For a moment I couldn't believe it," he said. "I thought they would try to block the vote but they would try to do it in a peaceful manner."
      "It wasn't like that, but at least the whole world has seen it. This decision has made things a lot worse. It is one of the worst decisions made by this country in 40 or 50 years.
      "It has only served to separate Catalonia and Spain more and it will have consequences."