SINGAPORE Asian soccer's governing body the AFC has apologized for referring to the United Arab Emirates national side as the "Sand Monkeys" in an article on their official website.
The AFC said the nickname, which the UAE labeled racist and "evidence of disrespect", had been used in error, and that the reference was fixed as soon as the mistake was realized.
"The AFC apologizes for an editorial mistake in which the UAE National Team was inadvertently referred to by an inaccurate nickname... in the article 'UAE to take cautious approach' dated 12 October 2012," a statement for the Malaysia-based body said.
"The error, which was mainly because of referral to a popular web-based encyclopedia by the concerned editor, was corrected immediately after it was noticed.
"The AFC would like to apologies for any hurt this might have caused to the UAE Football Association and UAE football fans."
The UAE's secretary general Yousuf Abdulla said the affair "reveals the racist acts of some of the AFC officials from the eastern part of the continent towards the countries from the western region."
The UAE's nickname is Al-Abyad, or The Whites.
(Editing by John O'Brien)