Argentinian retired footballer Diego Maradona responded to a controversy generated by an alleged racist gesture he made towards South Korean fans.
Maradona was seated in the VIP section reserved for former football players known as “Fifa Legends” during his former team’s World Cup match against Iceland over the weekend when the controversial gesture allegedly happened.
The former superstar, widely regarded as among the greatest football players of all time, reportedly pulled his eyes back and to the side to make the racist “slant eyes” gesture after spotting some fans from South Korea calling his name. The gesture sparked outrage online after a British television staff posted about it on Twitter.
On Sunday, Maradona took to Facebook to address the incident without apologizing for what is widely perceived to be a racist gesture.
“I understand better than anyone that during the World Cup people are always looking for news at all costs,” Maradona wrote.
“But let’s take it easy: Today, at the stadium, among the many demonstrations of affection of people, my attention was attracted by a group of people around a fan who was filming us, an Asian boy wearing an Argentina shirt. I, from far away, tried to tell him how nice it seemed to me that even Asians would come for us. And that’s it, guys. Please.”
Fifa, which prohibit all acts of discrimination by teams, officials and fans at its games, banned Colombia player Edwin Cardona for five friendly games and fined him 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,096) last year after he did a similar gesture against South Korea.