'I had no intention of attacking Vinicius Jr' - La Liga president Javier Tebas issues veiled 'apology' to Real Madrid star after war of words in wake of racism incident
The league president seemed to admit that he was in the wrong after getting into a Twitter back-and-forth with Vinicius on Sunday, following the vile racist abuse the Brazilian was subjected to by Valencia fans.
He told ESPN Brazil: "I did not want to attack Vinicius, but if most people understood it that way, I need to apologise. It was not my intention I expressed myself badly, at a bad time."
On Sunday, Tebas accused Vinicius of failure to 'inform himself properly' after the player posted a lengthy Twitter message outlining the abuse he regularly receives at stadiums across Spain.
Vinicius responded with a strong statement of his own, asserting that Tebas was 'equal to racists' for promoting the misguided narrative that La Liga has supported him.
Tebas' words were met with strong criticism in Brazil, with the nation's president, as well as a handful of Vinicius' national team colleagues voicing their support for their compatriot.
But his apology was far from convincing, with the president appearing to blame his communications team rather than take responsibility for lack of support: "Here is an issue that I always say to my (communication) team: when many people understand the message in a way, they are right. So, I have to repent."
He continued by suggesting that his exchange with the player was mainly due to a misunderstanding.
"I think that the message, and the intention I had, an important part (of people), especially in Brazil, did not understand.
"But I had no intention of attacking Vinicius, but rather clarifying a situation, because Vinicius had recorded a video supporting LaLiga's actions."
"For me, Vinicius is an asset of Real Madrid, of Spanish football, and we want him with us", he added. "I feel sorry for what happened, and that's why we denounced it. And we didn't just denounce it: we took special actions at his games. We spoke to the clubs, so that they could provide more security, identify fans. LaLiga takes care of Vinicius. And, if they misunderstood what happened, tweet, I have to apologise," he added.
La Liga have taken action against Valencia for their fans' abuse of Vinicius. They have been hit with a fine, and will also see part of their stadium shut down for five matches. Vinicius has also had a red card he received in stoppage time of the fixture rescinded, and will likely feature at the weekend once he has recovered from a knee issue.