Iker Casillas has broken his social media silence less than 24 hours after he caused controversy with a tweet that suggested he was coming out as gay.
The former Real Madrid goalkeeper tweeted that he was gay, before quickly deleting the post and claiming that he had been hacked.
Despite criticisms from a number of other players and ex-professionals in the sport, Casillas has returned just a day later to announce that it’s time for him ‘to travel far’.
Taking to social media on Monday, Casillas wrote: ‘It’s time to travel far #goodweek’ with a suitcase and airplane emoji included. The World Cup winner included a picture of himself standing in an elevator with a suitcase beside him, as he prepares to jet away.
Aside from a link to a YouTube music video, it’s Casillas’ first actions on social media since claiming that his official account had been hacked on Sunday afternoon.
He caused a stir when he tweeted, ‘I hope you respect me: I’m gay’, before his old international team-mate Puyol replied: ‘It’s time to tell our story.’
However, ex-Real Madrid goalkeeper Casillas deleted the post an hour later and went on to write: ‘Hacked account.
Luckily everything in order. Apologies to all my followers. And of course, more apologies to the LGBT community.’
Puyol, who has two children with his girlfriend Vanesa Lorenzo, later published an apology for his role in the matter, claiming: ‘I messed up. I’m sorry for a bad joke which had no bad intention, which was totally out of place.’
The 44-year-old added: ‘I understand that I may have hurt someone’s feelings. All my respect and support towards the LGBTQ+ community.’
The former national team-mates – who won every possible honour with their respective clubs and their country – came under criticism from a number of professionals within the sport after their ill-natured ‘joke’.
The behaviour of the 2010 World Cup winners was condemned by Adelaide United left back Josh Cavallo, one of the few active male footballers to come out as gay.
‘Casillas and Puyol joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing,’ tweeted the 22-year-old Australian. ‘It’s a difficult journey any LGBTQ+ people have to go through.
‘To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful.’
Pride in Football, a network of LGBTQ+ fan groups in the UK, said: ‘Misjudged, ill-timed and disappointing. We should not be seeing “jokes” at the expenses of others in 2022.
Reports in Spain suggested Casillas did the post as a ‘joke’ in response to rife rumours over his post-divorce dating life.
The 41-year-old, who has 9.7million followers on Twitter, split from his TV presenter wife Sara Carbonero last year. His original tweet came a day after local media reported he was in a relationship with Spanish actress Alejandra Onieva.
Just last month, Casillas put an end to rumours that he was now seeing Colombian pop star Shakira – after her recent separation from Barcelona defender Pique.