NBA Toronto Raptor Jose Calderon defends photo of Spanish players

“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.

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