Sergio says sorry to Tiger for ‘fried chicken’ slur

Spanish golfer Sergio García has apologized for making a racist remark after receiving a barrage of complaints from sponsors, fellow pros and Tiger Woods himself.

Sergio says sorry to Tiger for 'fried chicken' slur
'It shouldn't have been said. I will apologise to him face to face,' Garcia said of his racist remark. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

Sergio García expressed what has been described as 'deep and sincere regret' on Thursday as he scrambled to limit the damage to his reputation caused by an racist comment.

The golfer sparked a storm of controversy while responding to questions about 2013 Players Championship winner Tiger Woods at an event in London in front of 350 guests on Tuesday.

He was asked, "What night will you be inviting Tiger around for dinner?" and answered, "We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken."

'Fried chicken' has racist connotations in the USA and is often used pejoratively.

García and Woods had previously clashed at the tournament over an incident during the third round.

Tiger responded to the Spanish player's comments via Twitter, saying: "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate. I'm confident that there is real regret that the remark was made. The Players [Championship] ended nearly two weeks ago and it's long past time to move on and talk about golf."

Garcia's main sponsor, TaylorMade-Adidas, was quick to issue a statement to avoid being associated with García's remark.

"Sergio Garcia's recent comment was offensive and in no way aligns with TaylorMade-Adidas Golf's values and corporate culture."

The statement added: "We have spoken with Sergio directly and he clearly has regret for his statement and we believe he is sincere. We discussed with Sergio that his comments are clearly out of bounds and we are continuing to review the matter."

García, 33, rushed to apologize for his words as the extent of the outrage in the golfing world became apparent.

"I was caught off guard by the question," he said, "but don't get me wrong. I understand that my answer was totally stupid and out of place. I can't say sorry enough about that."

He added: "Most importantly, I want to apologise to Tiger, and anybody that I could have offended. I feel sick about it. I'm truly, truly sorry. I called Mark Steinberg, his manager. He didn't pick up but I left him a message and told him that I was very sorry and that I would love to talk to them as soon as possible and make sure everything is OK. It was a bad comment and shouldn't have been said. I will apologise to him face to face."

George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, ruled out official punishment for Garcia and told press, "Sergio expressed very deep and sincere regret for his unguarded and, in his own words, 'stupid' remark and we are also aware of his statement of apology issued at 12.25am this morning. Following our meeting, we have accepted his full apology and we consider the matter closed."

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Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.