“We felt it was something appropriate, and that it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture,” Calderon, who plays for NBA’s Toronto Raptors, wrote on his El Mundo.es blog. “Without a doubt, some … press didn’t see it that way.”
It’s not the first time Spanish sports has encountered questions over racist attitudes, and the photo comes at a time when Madrid is vying to host the Olympics. Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was subjected to abuse at a Barcelona circuit in February, while former Spain coach Luis Aragones also used a racist remark about France striker Thierry Henry to motivate one of his players. Monkey chants rained down on England’s black players during an international friendly against Spain in a match played in Madrid in 2004, soon after Aragones’ outburst.