(photo credit: AP)
"You're a country of murderers. You're criminals. You fire rockets at civilians and kill children."
This is what Andorra's national soccer team coach, David Rodrigo, allegedly told Israel captain Yossi Benayoun during Wednesday night's Euro 2008 qualification match in the Netherlands - which Israel won 4-1.
The incident occurred in the 31st minute of the match when Benayoun was preparing to take a throw from the sideline and mocked the Andorran coach - whose team was trailing 2-0 at the time - by putting two fingers up in his direction.
"We are checking the matter and we will file a complaint with UEFA," Israel Football Association media officer Shaul Eisenberg told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday after returning to Israel from the Netherlands.
"I couldn't believe what I heard," Benayoun said after the match. "It was unbearable and it hurt me in particular because of all the recent Israeli victims."
The Israeli captain also said after the match that Andorran player Manolo Jimenez, who had heard his coach's remarks, apologized at the end of the game. "It's an embarrassment, I'm really sorry about those words," he said.
The government of Andorra views the incident "gravely" and the sports minister has sent a letter to the president of the Andorra Football Federation, instructing him to carry out a full investigation of the affair, a government spokesperson told the Post by phone.
The Andorran government learned of the affair after reading about it on jpost.com, The Jerusalem Post's Web site.
The spokesperson strongly condemned the "insulting remarks" by Rodrigo and added that should the sports minister's investigation conclude that Rodrigo did make the remarks to the Israeli player, is "likely [that] disciplinary action would follow."
Andorra's minister of foreign affairs has contacted Israel's ambassador to Spain, who also serves as Israel's representative to Andorra, and relayed the government's feelings on the matter. "The government of Andorra totally disassociates itself from this, and we condemn these insulting remarks," the government spokesperson told the Post.
"There is no room in sports for the expression of political opinions," said Israel coach Dror Kashtan. "The authorities should take care of things like this and this man should be called into order. He should keep his political opinions to himself."
Amir Mizroch contributed to this report.