Iniesta sorry as social post sparks controversy
Andres Iniesta apologised after posting a photo on social media with two people in blackface as part of Epiphany celebrations.
The Barcelona legend who currently plays at Japan’s Vissel Kobe had no intention “to upset anyone by displaying that photo,” according to a statement by his agency sent to AFP on Wednesday.
“He would like to apologise to those people who may have felt offended,” the statement said.
Iniesta’s picture on Twitter and Instagram posted on Sunday showed his family and a group of people in costumes, taking part in the Three Kings Day, an important Christian festive tradition in Spain.
Large parades and other festivities are held across Spain featuring men dressed up as kings, with the role of Balthazar often played by a white man – often a city councillor – in black makeup.
Madrid’s leftist mayor Manuela Carmena ended the tradition in the Spanish capital in 2016 and the city now employs a black man to play the role in its Epiphany parade.
Iniesta, who won 32 major trophies and played 674 games for Barca, joined Vissel Kobe in May.
The Spain icon’s decision to choose Vissel arguably represents Japanese football’s biggest transfer coup, with many top players now moving to cash-rich Chinese clubs in the twilight of their careers.
It also came as a timely boost to the J-League, which used to attract luminaries such as Brazilian great Zico and former England star Gary Lineker when it began in 1993, but has struggled to attract marquee players in recent years.
In December 2017 Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann apologised after receiving criticism on social media for posting a picture of himself on Twitter dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter, covered in black paint and wearing a wig.
He [Iniesta] would like to apologise to those who may have felt offended – Statement
Back-tracking: Andres Iniesta.