Rakuten Responds After Racist Video of Footballers Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé Resurfaces

Professional French football players Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé of FC Barcelona offered a public apology after a video of them making fun of Japanese hotel staff made its rounds online.

What happened: The video was leaked less than a week after the French national team saw defeat at the 2020 UEFA European Football Tournament on June 29, according to Deutsche Welle.

  • Griezmann and Dembélé are seen watching the group of Japanese hotel staff repairing a television that would allow the footballers to play Pro Evolution Soccer in the hotel room.
  • However, Dembélé allegedly made fun of the staff for their “ugly faces” and later mocked their language. Griezmann was later seen grinning and laughing.

The apology: Griezmann, 30, and Dembélé, 24, posted their apologies online on Monday and explained the video was taken in 2019, ESPN reported.

  • “It could’ve taken place anywhere on the planet and I would’ve used the same expression,” Dembélé added in an Instagram Story post. “I was therefore not targeting any community. I just happened to use this type of expression with my friends regardless of their origins.”

  • Meanwhile, Griezmann posted his apologies on Twitter saying that he has “always been completely against all forms of discrimination,” South China Morning Post reported.
  • “For the past few days, certain people have wanted to paint me as someone that I am not,” he said. “I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I’m sorry if I have offended any of my Japanese friends,” he concluded.

The reception: Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten and a longtime sponsor of FC Barcelona, expressed his disapproval in a statement posted to Twitter, according to .

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  • He apologized as a “sponsor of the club and organizer of this tournament” for the discriminatory remarks.
  • Since Rakuten “has approved of the Barcelona philosophy,” Mikitani said the remarks are “unacceptable in all circumstances and we will protest officially against the club, as we wait to hear their position on the matter.”
  • Other social media users also refused to accept Griezmann’s apology.

  • Some users also shared some posts showing Griezmann in blackface for an ’80s themed dress party from 2017 and saying “ch*ng ch*ng.”

  • FC Barcelona hasn’t responded to any comments as of this writing.

Featured Image via aranFE (left, right)

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