PFA chairman contacts Harry Kane to explain joke at awards dinner
The chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has told The Mirror he has spoken to Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane to explain a joke he made at his expense at the PFA Awards.
The newspaper reported that Ben Purkiss is under pressure from the PFA to issue a public apology to Kane, which he is refusing to do, and that his position could become untenable if he does not.
At Sunday's awards dinner in London, Swindon Town defender Purkiss joked that Kane "is able to score without touching the ball" -- a reference to the forward's decision to claim Spurs' second goal, originally credited to Christian Eriksen, in their win at Stoke.
The Mirror reported that Kane and his family were unhappy with the comment, which follows similar jokes by fans, ex-players and fellow professionals, but Purkiss stressed that he had complete respect for the England player.
"The facts are I personally spoke to Harry Kane," Purkiss said. "I explained I was complimenting him on his achievements, how he went on loan before being such a success at Tottenham, and my comments were complimentary.
"During my speech, I made reference to the fantastic achievements of our members. I spoke about the adversity footballers at all levels face. I referenced some of the nominees for the PFA Men's award.
"I referenced Harry Kane and spoke about my admiration for his success he achieved after his loan spells away from White Hart Lane.
"I said that he was so good he could score without touching the ball. I know for a fact he touched the ball. He was credited with the goal by an independent panel.
"I was joking at how ridiculous the coverage was as he is such a talented footballer. I contacted Harry to explain my comments, and he stated that he had not taken offence.
"I have utmost respect for Harry Kane and all our members. I have nothing but admiration for Harry."
According to The Mirror, Purkiss acknowledged that his joke was misjudged and wants the PFA to issue an apology on his behalf, with the organisation saying he should do it.
On Monday, the Football Association (FA) revealed that it had written to Tottenham and Manchester United to apologise for a tweet sent from the FA Cup's official account mocking Kane after Spurs' defeat in the FA Cup semifinal.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.