Dembele and Griezmann sorry for video mocking hotel staff in Japan

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French Barcelona duo Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann have apologized for a Snapchat video from 2019 where they mocked hotel staff in Japan but denied the comments were racist.

The video, recorded by Dembele during Barcelona’s pre-season tour of Japan ahead of the 2019-20 season, was leaked on social media and showed the two players mocking a group of hotel workers working to repair a television.

“It all happened in Japan. It could have happened anywhere on the planet and I would have used the same expression,” Dembele wrote on Instagram on Monday.

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

“This video has since been made public, so I appreciate that it may have hurt the people in these images. For this reason, I would like to sincerely apologize to them.”

Griezmann said he was “completely against all forms of discrimination”.

“The last few days some people have wanted to paint me as someone I’m not,” he said on Twitter. “I strongly refute the charges against me and I’m sorry if I offended any of my Japanese friends.”

Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc, which is one of Barcelona’s sponsors, said the couple’s comments were “unacceptable”.

“Regarding the discriminatory comments from FCB (Barcelona) players, I am very disappointed as club sponsor and tour organizer,” Mikitani tweeted.

“As Rakuten has endorsed Barca’s philosophy and sponsored the club, we find such comments unacceptable under any circumstances. We are officially protesting and seeking the advice of the club.”

Dembele and Griezmann recently featured for France at Euro 2020, where the world champions were knocked out by Switzerland in the round of 16 after a shootout.

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