After controversially saying that Espanyol are not from Cornella, it was fitting that Gerard Pique would be the man to pop up with a late equaliser against Barcelona’s Catalan rivals on Sunday.
His header leveled the scores after Gerard Moreno’s opener, and he celebrated wildly indicating to the home fans at the RCDE Stadium to be quiet after a barrage of abuse throughout the game.
Espanyol fans have spent many of the past years chanting about Pique, his wife Shakira and their children with abusive songs and he is often one of the most booed and whistled men in Spain when he visits the stadium.
Sunday’s derby was no different, but his celebrations sparked fury in the stands.
Now, however, LaLiga president Javier Tebas has hit out at the defender saying that such actions were inciting the reaction he got from Espanyol fans.
“Pique has to repress certain gestures, we have seen the cause and effect that it produces… until the moment of the goal, there was no insult directed at the player,” claimed Tebas at Mundo Deportivo’s annual gala.
“He scored the goal and the gesture of provocation made people react.
“Pique must work to avoid giving those insults, because Espanyol have worked along those lines and we [LaLiga] are still working on it.”
Tebas insists that regardless of the abuse he was getting from the stands, the Spanish international should know better than to encourage such a reaction from the fans.
“It’s true that there have been insults and I understand that he is upset, but we must avoid actions that provoke further abuse.
“The committee will decide if the gesture is punishable, and the regulation allows for the possibility to consider certain ways of celebrating a goal as provocation, but it’s not me who decides.”
Defenders of the Barcelona ace stuck up for him, pointing to similar behaviour by the likes of Real Madrid striker Raul who reacted similarly at the Camp Nou.
“It’s not the first time it has happened no,” Tebas admitted.
“But you can’t compare it with Raul… things were thrown onto the pitch then, we are talking about something else. These forms of celebration have seldom caused such tension and we should eliminate them.”
The LaLiga president is not the most popular of figures in Barcelona and these latest comments are unlikely to help his case.
Many players and staff from Barcelona played down the celebration after the game, insisting that such actions were to be expected in such tense and heated derby games.
Espanyol representatives, on the other hand, were furious, with Quique Sanchez Flores among those to condemn the defender.