Pires leads criticism of Aragones race slur

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Robert Pires led the condemnation of the Spain coach, Luis Aragones, for his alleged racist outburst about Pires' Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry.

The Spanish Football Federation seem unlikely to punish Aragones, who is said to have used racist language when trying to motivate Jose Antonio Reyes before tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Belgium.

Pires, who is on international duty with Henry, said: "I have not had the opportunity to talk about that with Thierry but it could be necessary to take him [Aragones] to court. If this is a joke, it's a weird one."

Aragones defended himself, saying: "I consider myself a citizen of the world and I have many black friends. I don't think anyone takes these comments seriously because I never intended to insult or disrespect anyone. I think I made a comment to Reyes to motivate him."

The president of the Spanish Football Federation, Angel Maria Villar, also defended Aragones: "He has coached many foreign and black players in his time and he has always been correct and respectful."

Reyes also tried to play down the incident. "I know when he is joking and when he isn't. He was shouting and also speaking to me in a low voice, so I can tell you he was joking."