posted on Oct, 8 2004 @ 07:56 AM
Spain coach Luis Aragones has issued an apology for his racist slur towards Arsenal's French international Thierry Henry.
Aragones claims he was trying to motivate Henry's Arsenal team-mate Jose Antonio Reyes during Wednesday's training session ahead of Spain's World Cup
qualifier against Belgium when the incident occurred.
Television microphones picked up the Spain coach referring to Henry, using racist language while telling Reyes that he was the better player of the
While reaction in Spain has been muted and Aragones has received the official backing of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and many players, the
incident has had a greater impact abroad, both in England and France, putting Aragones under pressure.
Now he has issued an official apology on the RFEF's website.
"In the first place, I want to make it clear that my intention was never to offend anyone. For that motive, I have to say that I have a clear
conscience," said Aragones.
"What I said can only be interpreted in the atmosphere of the team and of a coach who has the obligation to motivate my players to obtain the best
"To do this, I was using colloquial language.
"All I can do is apologise to the people who could feel offended and repeat it was never my intention to disrespect anyone," he said.
Spain defender Michel Salgado has defended his coach and blamed the media for exacerbating the incident.
"It is the fault of the messenger, you can't be recording, giving importance to everything that is normal on a training ground and taking it out of
context," he said.
However, there are some in Spain that have criticised Aragones for his words.
"You shouldn't even say that in a joke," said Esteban Ibarra, the president of the anti-racist Movement against Intolerance.
"He should be careful about what he says as the Spain coach also has a role to play in teaching social behaviour.
"The words show there are still people who have a series of prejudices, they have xenophobic content and if he says anything like it again, we will
ask for his resignation."