"I did not have any racist intent. I'd like to apologise."
Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde has denied making a racist goal celebration during a Under-20 World Cup match in South Korea.
Valverde had scored an equaliser and a goal in a penalty against Portugal, progressing his Under-20 team to the semi-finals.
During his goal celebration, the Uruguayan pulled his eyes back.
“It is not a racist celebration. It was a private celebration for friends,” he later tweeted in Korean. “I did not have any racist intent. I’d like to apologise.”
인종차별적 세레머니가 아니라 친구를 위한 개인적인 세레머니 었습니다. 제가 의도한 바는 인종차별이 아닙니다. 죄송합니다. pic.twitter.com/QmeZei8rmA
— Fede Valverde (@fedeevalverde) June 4, 2017
The 18-year-old currently plays for Real Madrid’s B team – Real Madrid Castilla.
Goal.com reports that FIFA has since called on Uruguay to explain Valverde’s actions. Another picture rportedly showed a celebratory photo of the entire squad making a similar gesture.
“It is the same gesture they have been making since the South American Championships in Ecuador,” said Aldo Gioia, part of the Uruguayan delegation in South Korea.
“They are making a big deal out of something that really shouldn’t be and we have to answer them. We thought that with Valverde’s explanation and apology this would be over but now we have this.”
— Laura #Garracharrua (@LBCeleste) June 6, 2017
Last month Argentina international Ezequiel Lavezzi made a similar pose of pulling his eyes back during a promotional photo shoot, for which he apologised.