London (AFP) – Former Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has apologised for his controversial comments about convicted sex offender Adam Johnson.

Strachan was accused of claiming racist abuse was the same as the situation that would face former Manchester City and England winger Johnson if he returns to football.

Johnson has recently been released after serving three years in prison for engaging in sexual activity with a 15-year-old fan, and has not ruled out resuming his career.

Appearing on Sky Sports’ ‘The Debate’ programme last month, Strachan said: “If he goes on to the pitch and people start calling him names, have we got to do the same as it is to the racist situation?

“Is it all right to call him names now after doing his three years – have we got to allow that to happen?”

Racism is a hot topic at present after a series of incidents involving fans abusing players across Europe.

In a statement on Sunday, Strachan admitted his comments were unwise.

“Given the response in the last 24 hours to a point made on The Debate programme on Sky Sports from over a week ago, and having reflected on it personally, it is important for me to address the issues that have arisen,” he said.

“In no way did I intended to confuse or conflate the very serious issue of racism targeted at footballers with the potential verbal abuse towards a player who has been convicted of a sexual offence.”