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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 21:56 GMT 22:56 UK
Aragones refutes race slur
New Spain coach, Real Mallorca boss Luis Aragones
Aragones is one of the most experienced coaches in Spain
Spain coach Luis Aragones has stressed he meant no offence over alleged racist remarks about Thierry Henry.

Aragones insisted he was trying to motivate Henry's Arsenal team-mate Jose Reyes during training.

"I never intended to offend anyone, and for that reason I have a very easy conscience," he said in a statement.

"What I said can only be understood in the context of a training session. I'm obliged to motivate my players to get the best results."

The 66-year-old continued in a statement relased by the Spanish Football Federation: "As part of that job, I use colloquial language, with which we can all understand each other within the framework of the football world.

"Finally, and understanding the importance that the post of national coach has, I can only apologise to the people who may have been offended."

He reiterating that was "never my intention to belittle anyone because, amongst other things, I would be doing as much to many of my friends".

Spanish Football Federation president Angel Maria Villar defended Aragones, saying he "is no racist".

He said: "I think the reported comments have been taken out of context."

Luis Aragones has coached many foreign and coloured players in his time and he has always been correct and respectful
Angel Maria Villar

Reyes also dismissed the incident, saying Aragones' remarks were not serious.

"I know when he is joking and when he isn't. He was shouting and also speaking to me in a low voice, so I can tell you he was joking," said Reyes.

But Reyes' Arsenal team-mate Robert Pires, on French international duty with Henry, hinted the matter could result in legal action.

"I have not had the opportunity to talk about that with Thierry but it could be necessary to take him (Aragones) to court.

"We should not be nice to him. If this is a joke, it's a weird one."

The Spain boss' comments were broadcast in local station Antenna 3's afternoon news slot as well as being repeated, although in some cases with the insults edited out, on several sporting websites.

Racist language was allegedly used when Aragones told Reyes he was a better player than Henry.

Aragones is the most experienced coach in Spain, having sat in the dugout for 757 First Division matches over a 30-year period.

He is famous for his fiery temper and outspoken comments and has made the headlines on several occasions during his career for public confrontations with players.

He took charge of the national team following Inaki Saez's resignation after Spain's disappointing performance at Euro 2004.




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