By JOHN DUERDEN
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Colombia’s Edwin Cardona has apologized after sparking a racism controversy during his team’s 2-0 loss to South Korea in an international friendly.
The Colombian midfielder made an apparently derogatory gesture with his eyes toward South Korean players in the second-half of last week’s game at Suwon World Cup Stadium, south of Seoul.
“I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry,’’ Cardona said in a video posted on the Colombian national team’s official Twitter account.
Two goals from Tottenham’s Son Heung-min gave the South Koreans a first win since March but Cardona’s actions, visible on the television broadcast, received considerable attention.
“I want to say I am not an aggressive person,’’ said Cardona, who plays for Boca Juniors in Argentina. “I am sorry that something that happened during the game has been misinterpreted.’’
Cardona’s actions were condemned by the Korean media and captain Ki Sung-yeung.
“The Colombians were really physical, which can happen in football,’’ said Ki, who plays for Swansea City in the Premier League. “Racist behavior is unacceptable, however. Colombia is a team full of world-class players and it was disappointing to see this kind of thing.’’
This is not the first racist controversy on a South Korean soccer field this year.
During the 2017 Under-20 World Cup in June, Uruguay midfielder Federico Valverde reportedly made a similar gesture after scoring a goal, although he insisted it was a private celebration meant for his friends.