Real Madrid's Valverde insists celebration at U20 World Cup was not racist
Real Madrid Castilla midfielder Federico Valverde has denied making a racist gesture while playing for Uruguay at the Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, but said he was sorry if his actions had offended people.
Uruguay progressed to the semifinals of the competition after beating Portugal on penalties and Valverde celebrated his goal in a 2-2 draw by pulling his eyes back.
The 18-year-old told DIRECTV SPORTS Latin America: "I've been told that it has upset many people, and I apologise if they considered it as such.
"There was no intention from my part, I was dedicating it to my friend. I would have never done it with that intention, more so considering that this country is treating us very well."
Uruguay Football Association (AUF) president Wilmar Valdez denied reports that FIFA had opened disciplinary proceedings but said the governing body was investigating.
He told Ovacion: "No disciplinary action has been taken against Uruguay.
"They [FIFA] have requested an explanation for the pose, especially considering the repercussion it has generated in the press and in the social media in Korea."
Valdez said the AUF had prepared a written statement for FIFA and that he would travel to Korea shortly, adding: "I have hope that this [incident] ends now."
Last month, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Chinese Super League club Hebei CFFC apologised after the Argentina international was photographed making a racist gesture by apparently making his eyes look more Chinese.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.