Spanish media and football authorities have played down the racist chanting that marred Wednesday’s friendly between Spain and England.
Spain won the friendly at the Bernabeu, but the game was overshadowed by the continual monkey noises aimed at England’s black players by a number of spectators.
The Spanish foreign ministry on Thursday condemned racist chanting, but denied any had been audible at the Bernabeu.
“If there were racist chants then that is deplorable and lamentable and it is not suitable behaviour for football fans,” a spokesman for the foreign ministry said.
“I am certain that it was only a small element of the crowd and Spain strongly rejects such behaviour.”
After the game the Spanish Federation’s press officer Fernando Garrido refused to answer any questions about the incidents.
“Were there racist chants against some players? This hasn’t happened in the Spanish league and Spain for many years,” he said.
“So you (English reporters) should ask yourselves what you have done to contribute to all this.”
But the organisation SOS Against Racism called for action from the Federation.
“The Spanish Football Federation is clearly less sensitive towards racism and xenophobia than other federations in Europe and has talked of ‘provocation’ instead of dealing with the incident,” spokeswoman Begona Sanchez told Spanish news agency Europa Press.
“As a result the controversy has not been closed and they are legitimising racist behaviour.”
The build-up to the match was marred by controversy involving coach Luis Aragones, following recent comments about Thierry Henry in which he had referred to the France striker as “that black shit”.
Aragones was unrepentant about his comments and refused to comment on the chanting by the crowd.
“I’ve always said my conscience is clear and I only want to talk about football,” he said.
Spanish newspaper ABC accused English reporters of targeting Aragones.
“The English media continued their witch-hunt against the Spanish coach over the issue of racism. The reporters took advantage of the post-match press conference to deepen the wound that had been opened before the game. The darts were coated with poison.
“The response of the Spanish Federation press office did not satisfy the English, perhaps it was because their team had played so poorly and they wanted to divert attention towards this muddled issue.”