February 5, 2018 / 12:56 PM / in 9 months

Soccer: Garcia denies racially abusing Barca's Umtiti

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - Espanyol vs Atletico Madrid - RCDE Stadium, Barcelona, Spain - December 22, 2017 Espanyol's Sergio Garcia celebrates scoring their first goal. REUTERS/Albert Gea

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Espanyol striker Sergio Garcia has denied Spanish media reports that he racially abused Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti during the Catalan derby on Sunday.

Garcia became embroiled in a heated argument with the French centre back on the pitch in the 1-1 draw at the RCDE Stadium in Cornella.

“First of all to clarify, I already spoke with Samuel yesterday,” Garcia said on Instagram below a picture of the two players.

“In no way was it my intention to be racist. You all know my wife is from gypsy roots and I grew up in a neighbourhood with every race in the world.

“My brother-in-law, who I have a firm friendship with, is African-American too. In the tension of the game a lot of things are said that should stay on the pitch.”

Spanish media said Barca defender Gerard Pique had to separate a furious Umtiti from Garcia, who later came to the Barcelona dressing-room to make peace with his opponent.

Pique’s 82nd-minute goal earned Barcelona a point after Gerard Moreno headed home Garcia’s cross to give Espanyol the lead in a feisty derby played on a waterlogged pitch.

Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Ed Osmond

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