Former Spain and Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas claims he was hacked after a tweet from his Twitter account said he had come out as gay.
A post attributed to the 41-year-old on Sunday said: “I hope you respect me: I’m gay.”
The tweet had a seismic impact on social media but suspicions over the validity of the message quickly emerged when an account in the name of his former Spain team-mate Carles Puyol replied 10 minutes later saying it was time for them “to tell our story”, followed by kissing and love-heart emojis.
Both tweets rapidly went viral, before Spanish publication Diario AS claimed it was a response to show how Casillas was “fed up with the rumours” about a potential relationship with actress Alejandra Onieva.
Each message was eventually deleted, with Casillas then posting another tweet absolving himself of responsibility almost three hours after the initial message was sent.
“Hacked account. Luckily everything in order,” wrote Casillas, who in 2020 ran for the presidency of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
“Apologies to all my followers. And of course, more apologies to the LGBT community.”
By that point, both players had already been widely criticised for what many felt to be an ill-judged joke.
That was certainly the perception of Josh Cavallo, the Adelaide United player generally regarded to be the first openly gay professional male footballer, who suggested the former Clasico stars had been disrespectful about a serious topic prior to Casillas’ brief explanation.
“Joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing,” he wrote.
“It’s a difficult journey that 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.”
Casillas’ apology was not immediately followed by a similar message from Puyol.