Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema has defended comments he made about racial discrimination in Spain, describing it as a part of the everyday reality of the country.
Benzema was fined €200,000 (£175,000) by the Spanish FA in August after he said that Spaniards are less interested in being “proud” of their race than in their ethnic origin.
The 22-year-old’s comments were made in an interview with the Spanish daily El País published on Thursday.
“I think the situation in Spain is the same as the situation abroad.
People don’t have the courage to speak about it,” he said.”
In the same way that you don’t want to talk about racism because it would make you look racist, you also don’t wish to talk because it might cause people to think that you’re a racist.”
The midfielder was fined by the FA, but later said he did not realise that it was a violation of the federation’s code of conduct.
“I was not aware of it.
I did not understand what it meant,” he told the newspaper.”
When I was at Barcelona I saw a lot of racism and I think that in Spain it’s the same.
People think I’m a racist, but when I look around, I see different people.””
There are other people who have been discriminated against, I know that.”
Benzema’s comments come just days after Spanish footballer Cristiano Ronaldo was also fined in Spain for a similar comment made at the World Cup.
The 22nd-ranked player was also criticised for suggesting the Portuguese star was “going to go through hell” if he refused to play for his country at the tournament.
“They [the Portuguese] are going to hell.
They’ll go through heaven.
You’ve got to respect their opinion,” Ronaldo said.
“They can play here, but you have to respect your country.”
Ronaldo has previously said that racism in Spain was “absolutely unacceptable”.
The Portuguese star, who has won the Ballon d’Or twice, said he was not bothered by comments from Benzema about racism, claiming that “there are a lot more people who are going through hell”.
“I have never been involved in racism, but it’s something I’ve seen on the streets of Portugal,” he added.
“People are saying it’s a different way of life here.
I don’t know why, but people are saying that.
There are a million people who will say that.””
I don’t think it’s true, but that’s what you hear in the streets.”