x

Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Espanyol striker denies racially abusing Barcelona's Samuel Umtiti

Sergio Garcia has denied Spanish media reports that he racially abused Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti during the Catalan derby on Sunday

Valencia's Spanish goalkeeper Jaume, right, catches the ball under pressure from Barcelona's French defender Samuel Umtiti. Lluis Gene / AFP
Valencia's Spanish goalkeeper Jaume, right, catches the ball under pressure from Barcelona's French defender Samuel Umtiti. Lluis Gene / AFP

Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia has denied Spanish media reports that he racially abused Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti during the Catalan derby on Sunday.

Garcia became embroiled in a heated argument with the French centre-back on the pitch in the 1-1 draw at the RCDE Stadium in Cornella.

"First of all to clarify, I already spoke with Samuel yesterday," Garcia said on Instagram below a picture of the two players.

"In no way was it my intention to be racist. You all know my wife is from gypsy roots and I grew up in a neighbourhood with every race in the world.

"My brother-in-law, who I have a firm friendship with, is African-American too. In the tension of the game a lot of things are said that should stay on the pitch."

Spanish media said Barca defender Gerard Pique had to separate a furious Umtiti from Garcia, who later came to the Barcelona dressing-room to make peace with his opponent.

Pique's 82nd-minute goal earned Barcelona a point after Gerard Moreno headed home Garcia’s cross to give Espanyol the lead in a feisty derby played on a waterlogged pitch.

______________

Read more:

______________

Barcelona next travel to the Mestalla to face Valencia in the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on Friday. The Catalans hold a 1-0 lead after the first-leg but manager Ernesto Valverde looks set to be without defensive leader Pique after he suffered a knee injury in the draw with Espanyol.

The centre-back headed in substitute Lionel Messi's left-wing free kick to extend Barcelona's unbeaten start to the Primera Liga season to a club-record 22 games.

Early reports said Pique could be sidelined for a month and miss the Uefa Champions League trip to Chelsea on February 20, but he now looks set to miss the Valencia cup game on Friday and the league clash with Getafe on Sunday.

New signing Yerry Mina could make his Barcelona debut alongside Umtiti against Valencia, with Thomas Vermaelen not yet fit after injuring his hamstring last month.