Atletico Madrid Apologize for Offensive Antonio Puerta Chants
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In a weekend marred in controversy due to the Arsenal fans disgusting jibs at Emmanuel Adebayor, the Spanish game suffered similarly as the Atletico Madrid fans used the name of deceased Antonio Puerta as weight while insulting the Sevilla supporters.
Puerta is an icon for the Andalusian side, and has been immortalized in sculpture for his goal that saw his side into the UEFA Cup Final (now UEFA Europa League) on their way to winning it in 2006. He was also the inspiration behind Sergio Ramos's t-shirts during Spain's celebrations of the European Cup win in 2008 and World Cup win in 2010.
Antonio Puerta had already won a cap for Spain at the age of 21, but a year later the talented wing back's career ended in front of a watching television audience in one of the most harrowing images in the history of the game.
During Sevilla's first game of the 2007/2008 season against Getafe, Puerta went down in his own penalty area before it was noticed by some of his team mates that he was in substantial difficulty. Later it was acknowledged that Puerta had suffered a cardiac arrest, but unaware at the time, Puerta walked back to his dressing room after his initial collapse where the Sevilla man again collapsed, dying three days later on August 28 2007.
Atletico Madrid released a statement apologizing to the family of Puerta and the Sevilla fans via their website yesterday.
"Atletico Madrid deeply regrets the chants made against the figure of Antonio Puerta during last Sunday's game at the Vicente Calderon stadium.
"Our club expresses its deep disgust at such chants and apologises to the family of the late player, to Sevilla and to football in general.
"At Atletico Madrid we support respect in football and we hope that these types of incidents don't happen again either in our stadium or in any other ground.''
Atletico Madrid president, Enrique Cerezo, also apologized for a "minority" of fan's behavior.
"I apologise to everyone connected with Sevilla and to the family of Antonio Puerta. They must know that the people who sang this are a minority who have nothing to do with football or sport.
"It's sad and painful to hear these songs at a football ground about a person who has been a great sportsman and who is no longer with us.''
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