Juventus midfielder Emre Can has apologized for saying “we’re not women” when hitting out at teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s red card against Valencia in the Champions League earlier this week – sparking a furious online debate.
Ronaldo was handed a straight red card in the first half for tugging at Valencia defender Jeison Murillo’s hair.
The Portugal star left the field in tears and many judged the sanction to be harsh given the minimal contact he made with Murillo.
On being shown the incident after the game, Juve teammate Can said: “That’s supposed to be a red? I just heard that he said it was because of hair pulling.
“We’re not women, we’re playing football. If you’re giving that as a red card, you can be sent off for any foul. One hundred percent, that is not a red card.”
Can, 24, later took to Twitter to “clear the air” regarding the comments, which some had branded “sexist” due to his reference to women.
“I would like to state that the comments made were never focused on nor meant to degrade women, women’s football or equality in any form. Everyone who knows me knows about my respect for women, equality and respect,” the German international wrote.
“My intention was to stick up for my team mate regarding a wrong decision which could have affected our game. I sincerely apologise if any of the comments I made have caused any harm,” added Can, who came on as a first-half substitute in the 2-0 win against Valencia.
I would like to take a moment to clear the air regarding comments I made after last nights game.
Please read the full statement below⤵️
— Emre Can (@emrecan_) September 20, 2018
The contrite post met with a mixed response, with some saying there was “nothing to apologize for” and that they were “mortified” that Can had been forced into the clearing up the comments.
Nothing to apologize for, least of all to all these soft people who don't know an iota about the game and the passion it entails, and even more so our Club and the passion it entails. You did and said the right thing, all the way. Always behind you. Forza @emrecan_
— YOUR MOM IS A LEGEND (@Intio17) September 20, 2018
It is unbelievable that you had to apologise for that. Political correctness is an aberration and a true plague in our modern society. I am mortified to see that someone has to issue an apology because some idiots without a life are obsessing over trivialities. #IAmWithEmre
— Rosie Trenta (@ildico1) September 20, 2018
This world is too soft, statement wasn’t needed
— A🛏 (@akelbaba_) September 20, 2018
Others dismissed the apology as the work of a PR team, and accused Can of “demeaning an entire gender” with the comments.
"Caused some commotion" – not taking responsibility for his actions, the classic "I'm sorry you're offended"
"Never…meant to degrade women" – well it did. Own up to it and think about why people are upset
"My intention was…" I don't care about your intentions, rude is rude
— Nick Zscheile (@NZscheile) September 20, 2018
Emre didn't write that. Someone from Juve or from his management team did that for him, trying to cover his ass.
If he's going to defend someone at the cost of insulting others at least have the balls to stand by your own original statement.
Backtracking is for cowards.
— Martial is a Fraud. Ben Arfa 2.0 (@The_High_Sparow) September 20, 2018
Love all them men saying no apology necessary. He's not talking to you.
— Shannon McGown (@shayshay281) September 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Ronaldo is reportedly set to escape with a one-game ban over the incident, meaning he will return to Champions League action in time to face former club Manchester United.