Rome - Juventus midfielder Emre Can apologised on Thursday after saying "we're not women, let's play football" in response to teammate Cristiano Ronaldo being sent off in the Champions League win at Valencia.
Portuguese star Ronaldo was left in tears after receiving a red card for clashing with defender Jeison Murillo in the 29th minute of Wednesday's game which the Italian champions eventually won 2-0.
Speaking to DAZN sports streaming network, 24-year-old Can was quoted as saying: "I just found out it (the red card) was because he pulled Murillo's hair. We're not women, let's play football."
Can issued a statement Thursday, insisting the remarks were not meant to be derogatory.
"I would like to take a moment to clear the air regarding the comments I made after last night's game. My response after seeing the video footage of Cristiano's sending off seemed to have caused some commotion," the German international wrote on Twitter.
"I would like to state that the comments made were never focused on nor meant to degrade women, women's football or equality in any form. Everyone who knows me knows about my respect for women, equality and respect.
"My intention was to stick up for my teammate regarding a wrong decision which could have affected our game. I sincerely apologise if any of the comments I made have caused any harm."