Former Manchester City footballer Yaya Toure has apologised for an “inappropriate joke” that forced him to quit this weekend’s Soccer Aid match.
The 37-year-old was due to play for the World XI team in Sunday’s charity game at Old Trafford, but is no longer taking part following content he shared on a group chat with his teammates.
The posts on WhatsApp sparked a string of complaints from his fellow squad members, who included several female players and celebrities, according to The Sun.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Toure said he is a “grown man who should not be engaged in such jokes” and he regretted the negative publicity which had deflected from the fundraising game for Unicef.
“I would like to apologise to everyone involved in Soccer Aid for an inappropriate joke I deeply regret,” he wrote.
“It was meant as a joke however I lacked thorough consideration for the feelings of other participants.
“That being said I deleted the jokes within minutes and I immediately apologised to all inside the group.
“We gather for a good cause and this deviates the focus of the game which is to bring everyone together to help children around the world.
“It’s sad to see an inappropriate joke I made attract the attention which should be fully devoted to the beauty of the charity game.”
The former Barcelona star added: “Regardless of the circumstances, I want to take full responsibility. I am a grown man who should not be engaged in such jokes.
“I am very sorry for my mistake and I wish everyone all the best with Soccer Aid on Sunday in raising awareness and funds for important causes.”
In a statement to Sky News, a spokesman for Soccer Aid said “the individual involved” would no longer be taking part in Sunday’s match after “inappropriate content was shared in a private group text”.
“The message was quickly deleted and a full apology was made to all,” the spokesman added.
“Soccer Aid for Unicef has discussed the above with the individual involved and he has decided to no longer continue to participate in this year’s event.
“While it was an error of judgement, it was felt that the behaviour didn’t align with the values of the event and its cause, and it was the right thing for him to step back from this year’s match.”
This year’s Soccer Aid match is being played behind closed doors for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The England XI team are being managed by Wayne Rooney and Sam Allardyce, while the World XI are being coached by Harry Redknapp and Bryan Robson.