May 16 – Argentine star Ezequiel Lavezzi, one of the most highly paid players in world football, has been forced to apologise after he made a slant-eyed pose in promotional pictures for his Chinese Super League club.
The forward, who joined Hebei CFFC from Paris St Germain 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.
“We were given instructions by the official photographer and I was trying to make some interesting photos by making some funny faces, which would be used afterwards for entertainment purposes,” said Lavezzi.
“I had no intention of insulting the Chinese people and did not do it with any bad intentions. I have had a great time here with my team mates and it has been a great journey. Every Chinese person around me is friendly and I love my life here.
“I deeply apologise if this photo has offended the Chinese public and fans. I will be more careful in the future.”
The damage, however, has been done with Lavezzi, who joined Hebei in in a deal reported to be worth around £8.5million per season, likely to suffer a backlash among fans.
Hebei, coached by former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, have also sought to distance themselves from the incident.
“Since joining us at the beginning of 2016, Lavezzi has been getting along very well with the team and been loved by fans too,” said Hebei, who denied the pictures had been officially released by the club.
“He has expressed his love for China many times too. Now we have communicated with him and have clarified he had no bad intentions and he deeply apologised for any offense caused. As a club we apologise for our neglect in our work. We will be more careful in the future.”
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