SEOUL – Chilean footballer Diego Valdes was forced to issue an apology after making a racist gesture towards a South Korea fan before a friendly match between two countries on Tuesday.
South Korean media have widely circulated the image of the 24-year-old midfielder, who made a disrespectful signal with his eyes whilst posing for a photo with the supporter.
“I asked Chilean football players to have a photo taken with me,” the fan told Sportal Korea, a local football media outlet. “I did not know he made that gesture, which I found later.”
Following the backlash, Valdes tweeted: “In relation to the photography that appears in social networks, it was never my intention to offend and I offer my apologies to anyone that could have been offended.”
Chile boss Reinaldo Rueda refused to condemn his player for the unsavoury incident however – stating at the press conference: “I am not here to talk about things not related to soccer.”
The South American nation were in Seoul for their friendly with South Korea at the Suwon World Cup stadium. The game ended in a stalemate 0-0 draw.
Many in Korea have urged the Korea Football Association (KFA) to demand an apology from him, his coach and the Football Federation of Chile.
“What kind of national football player would make a racist gesture against the people of the country his team is about to have a friendly match with?” said Joon bum Kim, a former TV producer for www.sbs.co.kr, in a conversation with The Santiago Times.
“I just want to know why… we did not do anyting wrong to your country,” he added while terming Valdes’ act as “extremely rude”.
This is the second time in less than a year that there have been problems surrounding racism and South American teams.
Back in November 2017, Colombia’s Edwin Cardona was deemed to have made a racially-related gesture towards South Korea captain Ki Sung-yeung and was subsequently banned for five matches by FIFA.