Leicester City FC is set to investigate a “regrettable error in judgement” by Sheffield-born Jamie Vardy, after the England international was filmed allegedly using racist language in a casino.
The Sun on Sunday published footage, reportedly taken in the early hours of July 26, that appears to show the England international abusing a fellow gambler in a casino and calling him “Jap” on three occasions.
In a statement released by Leicester to Press Association Sport, the 28-year-old said: “I wholeheartedly apologise for any offence I’ve caused.
“It was a regrettable error in judgement I take full responsibility for and I accept my behaviour was not up to what’s expected of me.”
Leicester issued their own response, promising to look into the incident.
“We expect the highest standards from our players on and off the pitch and for them to set an example as role models in our community,” read a statement.
“We have noted Jamie’s apology and will begin a process of investigation into the incident imminently. There will be no further comment until this process has concluded.”
Released by Sheffield Wednesday at age 13, Vardy was signed by Stocksbridge Park Steels before going on to Halifax Town and then Fleetwood Town, but the player remains a Wednesday fan.
Anti-racism organisation Kick It Out had earlier called on the Foxes to act, with director Roisin Wood told the Sun on Sunday: “It is disappointing that the opening weekend of the season, which should be a time of celebration, has been overshadowed by these allegations.
“Footballers, no matter the level they play at, are role models on and off the field and their behaviour can impact millions of fans across the country.
“If these allegations are proven, we would consider it to be a serious matter and would expect the club to conduct a swift and thorough investigation. We have contacted the club and await their response.”
Vardy, who opened the scoring for Leicester in their 4-2 opening day victory over Sunderland, was a late bloomer at the highest level.
He was still playing non-league football with Fleetwood as recently as 2012 but made his name following a £1million move to Leicester.
That made him the most expensive non-league player in history but he soon began repaying the faith of then manager Nigel Pearson.
He netted 16 times as the Foxes won promotion to the Barclays Premier League, then scored five times last year as the team fashioned an unlikely escape.
Vardy was rewarded with a maiden England call-up by Roy Hodgson, making his debut as a second-half substitute in the 0-0 friendly draw against the Republic of Ireland in June.