Lionel Messi shirt swap death threats not Gerard Pique's fault - Barca director
Barcelona director Guillermo Amor says it's unacceptable to hold Gerard Pique responsible for the death threats received by Espanyol player Adria Pedrosa.
Pedrosa, 20, has been subjected to a barrage of abuse from his own supporters after asking to swap shirts with Barca forward Lionel Messi at the end of Saturday's Catalan derby at Camp Nou, which Espanyol lost 2-0.
La Sexta journalist Maria Martinez led the criticism against Pique, claiming he was to blame for the threats because of the player's boast before the game that he's worth more than Espanyol's budget.
"The two things don't have anything to do with each other," Amor told reporters before Barca's thrilling 4-4 draw against Villarreal on Tuesday.
"It's not acceptable to blame Gerard for something as serious as death threats received by a footballer for asking for Messi's shirt.
"It's normal that someone would want Leo's shirt, he's the best player in the world. To mix that with Pique's comments lacks all reason. All opponents want Messi's shirt and it's understandable why."
Pique, speaking light-heartedly ahead of the derby, told Movistar+ last week: "I have more money than Espanyol's budget this year. Nope, not just €57 million, it's plenty more than that."
Espanyol hit back on social media, saying that their values -- including the tribute in the 21st minute of every match to former captain Dani Jarque, who died of a heart attack aged 26 in 2001 -- could not be measured in Euros.
The Barcelona defender has a long history of feuds with Espanyol. He has previously disputed that they are a Barcelona-based club, saying that Cornella, where they play their home games, is not part of the Catalan city.
Meanwhile, Espanyol fans sing chants about his family, including his partner Shakira, and have held up banners mocking the Colombian singer.
Pique was left on the bench against Villarreal on Tuesday for the first time in La Liga this season. He had not previously missed a single minute.
Without him, Barca surrendered a two-goal lead and found themselves 4-2 down against Villarreal heading into the final minute of normal time. But late goals from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez saved a draw and ensured the Catalans will have an eight-point lead at the top going into Saturday's game against Atletico Madrid.