Barcelona say that they are contemplating “internal measures” against players Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele after the club issued an apology following a leaked video showing the pair mocking Japanese hotel staff.
Footage leaked this week from an incident in 2019 showed the two high-profile players, who cost the Catalan giants more than €250 million in combined transfer fees, appearing to mock Japanese hotel staff who were fixing a TV in a hotel room occupied by the players.
Both Griezmann and Dembele have since issued apologies to say that they abhor all forms of racism and discrimination, while denying that there was any racist intent on their part in the offending clip.
❗️Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé, in leaked video, appear to be mocking asian technicians in their hotel room who came to fix a technological issue, proceed to mock their looks, language and country's supposed "technological advance". pic.twitter.com/9fiBtyZxej
— +Barça (@plusbarca_) July 3, 2021
However, despite the players distancing themselves from the allegations it looks set to hurt both in their pockets – with Griezmann having been dumped by high profile brand partnerships with both Konami and Yu-Gi-Oh.
There has also been speculation that one or both of the players could be shipped out of the Camp Nou this summer, a move which would go some way to addressing the club’s dire financial situation which La Liga chief Javier Tebas says could prohibit them from registering new contracts – including Lionel Messi’s – in advance of the forthcoming campaign.
But regardless of the futures of the pair of French internationals, their employers clearly aren’t happy with the negative publicity the incident has brought to the club – and on Wednesday issued a strongly-worded statement in which they condemned the players’ actions and suggested that they may seek to impose harsh penalties on them.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.
“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. The Board of Directors that today manage the Club are committed to making sure episodes of this nature do not repeat themselves.
“The players have already shown their regret and have apologised to Japanese fans and partners, something that the Club values. Nevertheless, FC Barcelona reserve the right to take the internal measures that it considers appropriate.”
It remains to be seen exactly what those “internal measures” might be when it comes to both players but reports online have linked Griezmann with a move to Premier League outfit Chelsea, while Dembele – who has struggled with injury for much of his Barcelona career since signing for the Spanish club in 2017 – is also a prime candidate to be moved on, should new Barcelona president Joan Laporta be able to find a buyer for a player who has scored just 18 league goals in four seasons with the club.
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