Real Madrid midfielder denies celebration was racist after Korean outcry over controversial gesture

Federico Valverde's thoughtlessness echoes that of Ezequiel Lavezzi, who had to apologise after making a similar gesture in China last month

Monday 05 June 2017 17:00 BST
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Federico Valverde's celebration caused offence in South Korea, where the World Cup is being held
Federico Valverde's celebration caused offence in South Korea, where the World Cup is being held

Uruguayan midfielder Federico Valverde has denied making a racist gesture, despite causing local offence at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.

The Real Madrid starlet has impressed during the tournament, helping his nation to the semi-finals with the equaliser and then a goal in the shootout as they knocked Portugal out in Sunday's quarter-final.

But his goal celebration startled the locals in Daejeon, where he pulled his eyes back to make them into slits.

Argentinean international Ezequiel Lavezzi last month apologised after pulling a similar face to mimic Chinese characteristics during a promotional campaign for the Chinese Super League.

The Argentine, who joined Hebei CFFC from PSG in a big money deal last year, was pictured making the gesture while in team kit, and both the player and the club released statements in an attempt to diffuse the situation.

Valverde, meanwhile, tweeted in Korean to deny there was any racist intent behind his celebration.

"It is not a racist celebration," he said. "It was a private celebration for friends. I did not have any racist intent. I'd like to apologise."

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