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Barça legend apologises for posting blackface photo

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has apologised after posting a photo on social media with two people in blackface as part of Epiphany celebrations.

Barça legend apologises for posting blackface photo

The 34-year-old superstar 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 released on Wednesday. 

“He would like to apologise to those people who may have felt offended,” the statement said, however, the midfielder did not delete the original post from Twitter.

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 celebration also known as Epiphany, which is widely celebrated in Spain.

?????? pic.twitter.com/RhCXAj1AqB

— Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) January 6, 2019

 

It is not uncommon for Balthasar to be represented by a white man with a painted black face during the Three Kings processions that take place in towns across Spain on the eve of Epiphany, although more and more councils are taking note of the controversy and instead choose an authentic black man for the role.

This year a row broke out after an African migrant chosen to play the role in a parade in the Basque Country announced told children that it was their parents who were the real kings. 

ANALYSIS: Innocent Christmas blackface or a slippery xenophobic slope for the right in Spain?

FOOTBALL

‘Complete bombshell’: Messi tells Barça he wants to leave

Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona that he wants to "unilaterally" terminate his contract with the Spanish giants, a club source confirmed to AFP on Tuesday.

'Complete bombshell': Messi tells Barça he wants to leave
Photo: AFP

Lawyers for the Argentina star sent Barça a fax in which they announced Messi's desire to rescind his contract by triggering a release clause, sending shockwaves throughout the world of football.

However, the club maintains the clause expired in June and that he remains under contract until the end of the 2021 season.  

“In principal, this clause expired on June 10th, but the unusual nature of this season disrupted by the coronavirus opened the way for Messi to ask to be released from his contract now,” wrote Spanish sports daily Marca.

“It's the first step towards opening negotiations over his departure, on the basis of which his release clause amounts to 700 million euros.”    

Messi joined Barça's youth academy at the age of 13 and made his debut for Barça in 2004 as a 17-year-old.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner is the club's record scorer with 634 goals and has won the Champions League four times.    

But his future at Barça was thrown into doubt following a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in Lisbon 11 days ago.

The humbling defeat sparked drastic changes within the club. Coach Quique Setien was sacked after barely six months in charge while sporting director Eric Abidal was also dismissed after Barça's first season without a trophy since 2007.   

Argentine sports daily Ole described Messi's wish to leave as a “complete bombshell”, but the Argentine has had regular disagreements with the club's board in recent times.

'More out than in'

According to Spanish media, Messi met with new Barça coach Ronald Koeman last week and told the Dutchman he saw himself “more out than in” the club.    

Since his appointment Koeman has reportedly told Luis Suarez he is no longer part of Barça's plans, delivering a similar message to Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti.

Bayern's demolition simply exposed Barça's ageing team for what Messi has been saying all along: they are simply not good enough.    

He said it in February and again in July, when a rant in the aftermath of handing Real Madrid the title turned into a brutal, but honest, assessment of their season.

As his relationship with the club hierarchy grew increasingly strained, Messi also reacted publicly when Abidal appeared to blame the players for the sacking of Ernesto Valverde in January.

He also led the fightback from the Barcelona players over a dispute with the board in March regarding pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic.    

“Respect and admiration, Leo. All my support, friend,” tweeted Barça great Carles Puyol, a long-time former team-mate of Messi.    

“When you shut a tiger in a cage, he doesn't give in he fights back,” tweeted Vidal.

Messi's reported salary of nearly one million euros per week would limit the number of potential suitors, with Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan three clubs linked with an audacious swoop for one of football's all-time greats.

 

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