Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta has issued an apology after posting a photograph of himself with two people in blackface as part of Epiphany celebrations in Spain.
The image shows Iniesta, 34, his wife, two of his children and a group dressed in costumes related to Three Kings Day.
Two of the group are painted black – the role of Balthazar in Spain is often played by a white man in blackface.
But after the stir caused by the photo, a statement released Wednesday said Iniesta did not want to “bother” anyone with the photograph.
On Tuesday night, the photo had not been removed from the Vissel Kobe player’s social media.
“[Iniesta] apologises to those people who may have been offended,” the statement, released by Iniesta’s representatives, added.
Iniesta called time on his career at Barca last season after spending 18 years at the Spanish giants.
He is considered one of the most talented players of his generation, and perhaps the most popular Spanish footballer of all time after scoring the winning goal in their 2010 World Cup triumph.