Professional Footballers' Association chairman Clarke Carlisle believes his organisation made "a huge mistake" in hiring Reginald D Hunter to perform at Sunday night's awards dinner in London.
Hunter, a black comedian from Georgia in the United States, repeatedly used the word 'n*****' during his performance, which was not well received by members of the audience in the ballroom of the Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair.
Carlisle is one of a number of players who has campaigned tirelessly to try to eradicate racism in football, and the Northampton defender said: "I thought we made a huge mistake. I thought with everything that we have gone through over the last few years, using a comedian of his type was a bad error in judgement."
He added: "I was embarrassed sat up there throughout and I want to apologise unreservedly to the footballing community that was present."
The topic of racism in football has become an emotive subject over the last two years in particular, with John Terry and Luis Suarez both receiving bans for racial abuse, although former England captain Terry was cleared of racism in a criminal trial regarding the same incident.
Carlisle was also annoyed that Hunter's performance detracted from an evening that was meant to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organisation, and its decision to honour women footballers for the first time.
"What galls me is that it was a momentous occasion," he said. "It was our 40th award, Kim Little won the first women's award, a place in history.
"It was the first time that the men's and women's game had unified and instead we are talking about someone who we paid to come in as entertainment come in and be facetious about something we stand vehemently against so I apologise for that. I was embarrassed."
Carlisle's comments bring him into conflict with the organisation's chief executive, Gordon Taylor, who tried to play down the furore caused by Hunter's appearance. When asked whether it was a mistake to allow Hunter to perform, Taylor replied: "No, no, don't be silly. Are you serious?
"I think there were a few raised eyebrows over the comedian but that is the sort of thing you can't control. It was unfortunate. He is a professional comedian. It's a difficult subject in football and with him not being fully aware of how emotive it has been in football, that was probably a difficulty for him."