FC Barcelona has been forced to issue an apology after first team players Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele were accused of racism after a video went viral showing them making offensive remarks towards Asian hotel workers.
The Catalan club's statement regarding the controversy is directed towards their Japanese fans and club sponsors who were offended by the video. FC Barcelona were on a pre-season tour in Asia back in 2019 when Dembele recorded the short clip for social media platform Snapchat.
It has resurfaced recently, and has gone viral after causing outrage due to the mocking statements being made by Dembele on the video, with Griezmann clearly being shown laughing along with his teammate.
The incident has particularly enraged the CEO of Japanese tech firm Rakuten, which is incidentally one of the club's main sponsors. Japanese gaming company Konami, another one of the club's key sponsors, was also affected by the incident. They have reportedly already cancelled their personal relationship with Antoine Griezmann who was an endorser.
The statement shared on the club's website read: "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."
In the video, Dembele complained about having to call "ugly" workers just to be able to play a game console. He also mocked the workers' language and questioned the country's advancement.
"This attitude in no way coincides with the values that FC Barcelona represents and defends. The values of the Club and its partners 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," the statement continued.
"The Club is committed to improving its education on questions of race, discrimination and diversity. At FC Barcelona there is no place for racism or discrimination. FC Barcelona would like to apologise publicly to all the Club's fans and partners who feel unhappy about this event from the summer of 2019, a time when the Club's responsibilities fell to a Board Directors and executive team previous to the current," continued the statement, which appeared to place the blame partly on former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board.
The club then gave the assurance that its current board will ensure that such an incident does not happen again. The players issued their own statements on their social media accounts, which were not received well by fans. It remains to be seen if the club will place any sanctions on the offending players.