Barcelona stars and France international attackers Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele have apologised following the resurfacing of a video which shows them ridiculing Asian accents.
Griezmann insists he has “always been committed against any form of discrimination” while Dembele apologised as his comments “could have offended the people present”.
The video clips that resurfaced on social media in recent days appears to have been taken from the Catalan club’s pre-season tour of Japan in the summer of 2019.
There are two separate videos, each of which shows the two forwards making comments that were mocking the accent with which the staff at the local hotel spoke.
The first video shows three staff appearing to help fix the TV to allow the two club and international teammates to play a game of Pro Evolution Soccer.
The two appear to be in a hotel room before Dembele appears to then make disparaging comments towards the hotel workers in the room in the presence of Griezmann.
Dembele appears to say on the video recording: “All these ugly faces, just so you can play PES, aren’t you ashamed?
“What kind of backward language is that?
“Are you technologically advanced in your country or not?”
There is then another video which seems to be from the same tour in which Griezmann is relaxing in a swimming pool alongside Dembele and their fellow Frenchman Samuel Umtiti.
Griezmann is then captured stating: “Ching chong.” That has caused a backlash across social media with both of the forwards now taking to their social media accounts to denounce the comments and apologise for the incidents.
Griezmann wrote on his Twitter account “I have always been committed against any form of discrimination.
“For the past few days, some people have wanted to pass me off as the man I am not. I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I am sorry if I offended my Japanese friends.”
Griezmann’s teammate Dembele took to Instagram to write: “The scene happens to be in Japan. It could have taken place anywhere on the planet, I would have used the same expressions.
“I sometimes use these kinds of expressions in private, with friends, regardless of their origin, but I can imagine that the video could have offended the people present in these images.
“Therefore, I offer them my most sincere apologies.”
Four years ago, Griezmann – at the time on the books of Atletico Madrid – apologised after he tweeted a picture of himself dressed as a black basketball player.
The star player was accused of fuelling racist tropes for his ‘blackface’ make-up, an act associated with 19th century racial stereotypes.
Griezmann initially responded to the incident by stating: “Calm down guys, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and their good old days… it’s a tribute.”
He changed tact soon afterwards and added: “I recognise it is clumsy on my part. If I have hurt anyone, I apologise.”