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Aragones fined over Henry remarks

MADRID, Spain -- Spain national team coach Luis Aragones has been fined $3,964 by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for making racist comments about Thierry Henry.

Aragones caused a storm after making a derogatory reference to Henry's color, during a training session in October, to the French striker's Arsenal teammate Jose Antonio Reyes.

Alfredo Florez, chairman of the Federation's competition committee, confirmed the sanction.

Aragones, nicknamed the Wise Man of Hortaleza, has ten days to appeal.

Florez said the committee had applied an article of the RFEF's statutes in levying the fine for a "grave fault" in Aragones' behavior.

The committee said that Aragones' position demanded he behave with dignity and impeccable decorum, which he had failed to do on this occasion.

His comments, "while devoid of racist contempt, do not meet the special obligations which come with the post he holds."

Aragones, a veteran coach of more than 1,000 Spanish league games, has insisted all along he did not mean to be offensive and was merely geeing up Reyes by telling the youngster he had at least as much talent as his Highbury teammate.

Spain's anti-violence commission had pressed loudly for a punishment after the incident sparked a huge row in the run-up to Spain's friendly international with England in Madrid, which itself was marred by racist chanting at Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium.

Aragones insisted he did not mean to be offensive but federation sources warned several weeks ago he faced sanctions "within the ambit of the regulations of the Spanish Football Federation."

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