San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has apologised after being photographed making the controversial "quenelle" salute - which is considered to be antisemitic.
The 31-year-old, who was born in Belgium but raised in France, was photographed making the gesture alongside controversial comedian Dieudonné M'bala M'bala - but has issued an apology, insisting he will not repeat it, while adding that the photo was several years old.
“While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it," Parker stated. "When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful.
"Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions. Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt.”
Parker's apology comes days after English Premier League soccer player Nicolas Anelka was forced to defend himself after making the "quenelle" salute following his goal for West Bromwich Albion against West Ham at the weekend.
Dieudonné and others maintain that the salute is an anti-establishment gesture but, given its connotations with antisemitism, appears to have no place in any sport.