Seoul, November 13: Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has issued an apology after midfielder Edwin Cardona appeared to make an offensive eye gesture at South Korea players in Friday's 2-1 defeat.
Tensions boiled over in the 63rd minute when James Rodriguez forced Kim Jin-su to his feet while he was waiting for medical attention after hurting his leg.
Captain Ki Sung-yueng reacted by pushing James away from his team-mate, with the Bayern Munich man theatrically throwing himself to the ground.
everyone out here talking about Edwin Cardona's racist gesture but no one is talking about James' terrible dive. For shame James! pic.twitter.com/BiuBk7sdO0— Back To Blazers (@palmquac) November 10, 2017
Other players then got involved and Cardona – a half-time substitute – was filmed appearing to make a squinting gesture at the South Korea skipper, who blasted his behaviour after the match.
— TruePass_Football (@TruePass_Jun) November 10, 2017
Colombia Edwin Cardona is racist?
Match: South Korea vs Colombia pic.twitter.com/rUhrJ7zK2l
Cardona issued a public apology and denied allegations of racism, insisting he never meant to "disrespect anyone, any country or any race", and his coach lamented the incident.
"We deeply regret any offense caused by Cardona's behaviour," he told a news conference ahead of Tuesday's fixture with China.
"All of our players are sorry about this. The player himself also apologised on social media.
Korea captain Ki Sung-yueng on Edwin Cardona: "The Colombians were really physical, which is normal in football, but we aren't going to accept racist behaviors. It was disappointing to see a player on a team full of world class talents act that way."— Steve Han (@RealSteveScores) November 10, 2017
"He hasn't made any similar mistakes before. Perhaps was due to cultural differences. He felt deep regret over this.
"Football is not merely a sport. In some occasions, it could even end wars. We are truly sorry for causing such negative influence."