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Barcelona: Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele showed lack of respect in video mocking hotel staff

Barcelona have said that Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele showed “a lack of respect” in a leaked video from 2019 that showed them mocking hotel staff and have reserved the right to discipline the players over their conduct.

A video emerged on social media earlier this month in which the pair appeared to be laughing at technicians who were fixing a television for the players during a tour to Japan. Both Griezmann and Dembele have apologised for their comments, which they insist were not racist.

Their comments have drawn widespread condemnation including from the CEO of the club’s shirt sponsor Rakuten, who said that his organisation would make a formal complaint to Barcelona. Video games publisher Konami have also cut ties with Griezmann, who had signed up to be an ambassador for their Yu-Gi-Oh! range.

Barcelona did not address whether they viewed the comments by their players as racist.

A statement said: “FC Barcelona deeply regret the displeasure amongst Japanese and Asian fans and partners of our Club caused by a video that appeared a few days ago on social media in which two first team players (Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann) displayed a lack of respect in their attitude towards several employees in the hotel in which they were staying.

“This attitude in no way coincides with the values that FC Barcelona represents and defends. The values of the club and its sponsors should be something that FC Barcelona protects, and this belief is present at all levels of the organisation, from the board of directors and executives to the players in the club’s various sporting teams.”

Barcelona’s statement did note that the incident had taken place whilst a different board of directors were at the club, Joan Laporta having replaced Josep Maria Bartomeu following elections earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether the hierarchy will carry out the investigation that sponsors have requested but it would appear that Griezmann and Dembele may face punishment from the club.

“The players have already shown their regret and have apologised to Japanese fans and partners, something that the club values,” Barcelona said. “Nevertheless, FC Barcelona reserve the right to take the internal measures that it considers appropriate.”

Both players had apologised by Tuesday with Dembele stating that his actions towards hotel staff could have been similar anywhere in the world.

“It all took place in Japan. It could’ve taken place anywhere on the planet and I would’ve used the same expression,” he wrote on Instagram.

“I was therefore not targeting any community. I just happened to use this type of expression with my friends regardless of their origins.

“This video has since been made public. I appreciate therefore that it could’ve hurt the people present in these images. Because of this, I would like to sincerely apologise to them.”

Griezmann said that he was “completely against any forms of discrimination” in a statement that also said: “For the past few days, certain people have wanted to paint me as someone that I am not. I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I’m sorry if I have offended any of my Japanese friends.”




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