Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez may not be in the mood to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day after all, prompting an apology from MLS for a photo posted on its website.
A day after MLS posted on its website several soccergrams – photos of players posing with a rose to “Celebrate Valentine’s Day” – Martinez expressed displeasure at his.
The pose has Martinez holding a rose between his teeth, his right hand resting on his hip, his back slightly arched and his left arm behind his head. It was the most unique of the 27 photos released by the league. For example, Hector Villalba’s is just him with the rose between his teeth.
“That was a photo that we were just joking around and they never told me it was going to go out,” Martinez said through a translator on Tuesday. “I’m not taking it seriously.”
But it seemed like he was.
Martinez continued his answer to a question asked if he liked the final product by telling the translator to either say it or he would say it: “The next one, if it’s a photo like that, it will be without clothes.”
Martinez didn’t smile even after those interviewing him laughed because they thought his answer was meant to be funny.
The photo, taken in Los Angeles during a media tour before the season, wasn’t on the league’s website on Tuesday.
A statement provided by MLS to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution read: “Internal miscommunication resulted in the posting of the image. It was taken down soon after Atlanta United made the request. Josef is a rising star whose enthusiasm and cooperation at league initiatives is greatly appreciated. We apologize to Josef for this issue."
Several of Martinez’s teammates, interviewed before him on Tuesday, liked the photo.
“He’s a crazy guy,” centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez said. “That’s normal for him.”
Gonzalez Pirez said they may put copies of it around the locker room.
“I don’t know what he was doing, but that’s Josef,” Darlington Nagbe said. “He’s a good guy.”