ITV have dropped Yaya Toure from this year’s Soccer Aid after there were claims that he sent inappropriate messages in a WhatsApp group.
The former Premier League midfielder will not feature in the charity event, having initially been selected to feature as a marquee name.
According to The Sun, ex-Manchester City star Toure is claimed to have posted a pornographic video into a team WhatsApp group, which led to a number of complaints.
Toure, who also played for Barcelona during his career, is also said to have bragged that he could bring 19 girls to the team hotel in Cheshire.
The 37-year-old, who is married and has three children, was reportedly quick to delete the message he posted before apologising.
Though ITV took the decision to axe him after it was reported a number of his team-mates and celebrities complained about the message.
A spokesman for Soccer Aid told The Sun: “Inappropriate content was shared in a private group text. The message was quickly deleted and a full apology was made to all.
“Soccer Aid for Unicef has discussed the above with the individual involved and he has decided to no longer continue to participate in this year’s event.
“While it was an error of judgment, it was felt that the behaviour didn’t align with the values of the event and its cause, and it was the right thing for him to step back from this year’s match.”
The WhatsApp group that Toure sent the message to is said to have included former Manchester United star Patrice Evra and female players Julie Fleeting, Lianne Sanderson and Chelcee Grimes, among others.
Goalkeeper David James, who was also in the group, is suggested to have been annoyed with more than one complaint made to organisers from ITV.
Some players involved are reported to have asked for Toure to be removed from the event, with the match taking place on Sunday, with the feeling that the messages did not coincide with the ethos of the event.
Toure has admitted his mistake and regrets the negative publicity which has deflected from Sunday's fundraising game for children's charity UNICEF at Old Trafford.
"I would like to apologise to everyone involved in Soccer Aid for an inappropriate joke I deeply regret," he wrote on Twitter.
"It was meant as a joke however I lacked thorough consideration for the feelings of other participants.
"That being said I deleted the jokes within minutes and I immediately apologised to all inside the group.
"We gather for a good cause and this deviates the focus of the game which is to bring everyone together to help children around the world.
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"It's sad to see an inappropriate joke I made attract the attention which should be fully devoted to the beauty of the charity game.
"Regardless of the circumstances, I want to take full responsibility. I am a grown man who should not be engaged in such jokes.
"I am very sorry for my mistake and I wish everyone all the best with Soccer Aid on Sunday in raising awareness and funds for important causes."
The match raises millions of pounds for UNICEF each year and boasts a mixture of former professionals and celebrities.
The Sun add that, regardless of Toure’s comments, any attempts to bring women into the team hotel would have been denied due to strict rules around Covid-19.