FC Barcelona Mucks Up Apology After Racism Controversy

FC Barcelona Mucks Up Apology After Racism Controversy
Antoine Griezmann passes the ball during a friendly match in Saitama, Japan during the team's 2019 tour. (Photo: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP, Getty Images)

As Kotaku reported earlier this week, a video filmed during FC Barcelona’s 2019 tour of Japan, showed star Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele mocking hotel staff. The team’s ensuing apology one isn’t going over well in Japan.

In the recently released clip, Griezmann and his teammate Ousmane Dembele wait while hotel employees try to get their TV working so they can play Pro Evolution Soccer. Dembele can he heard mocking the staff, saying they had “ugly faces,” then asking in French, “Are you technologically advanced in your country or not?”, while Griezmann laughs. In the wake of the clip going viral, FC Barcelona finally issued formal apologies in English and Japanese.

But, as Hachima Kikou points out, the Japanese language apology is crudely written, with a typo in the first few words of the first sentence!

In Japanese, the apology starts:

FCバルセロナは、 FCバルセロナは

Which in English would read:

FC Barcelona, FC Barcelona

(For context, in English, the apology begins, “FC Barcelona deeply regret…” and not “FC Barcelona, FC Barcelona deeply regret…”)

You can see the typo in the first line. As of writing, it has yet to be corrected.  (Image: FC Barcelona/Official) You can see the typo in the first line. As of writing, it has yet to be corrected. (Image: FC Barcelona/Official)

Typos happen! Goodness, I know as well — or better — as any. But as pointed out online in Japan, these careless typos make the apology seem sloppy and not sorry.

As Hachima Kikou also notes, as of writing, only the Japanese language FC Barcelona account tweeted out the apology. The English language account has not tweeted out the English one. On Twitter, fans are demanding to know why.

What’s more, the fact that the apology also blamed the incident on the club’s board at the time (which has now been replaced) didn’t go over well either as it seemed more like an excuse. One Twitter user pointed out that the viral video not only discriminated against the Japanese people and their language but also humiliated the hotel staff as well. There were also calls for the team and the players to apologise to the hotel and its staff.

This is also incredibly embarrassing to Japanese retail giant Rakuten, which is the club’s biggest sponsor. (Griezmann reportedly apologised privately to company CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.)

So far, the biggest blowback seems to be Griezmann’s side gig as a Yu-Gi-Oh! spokesperson. Konami had just hired him but dropped the player in the wake of this controversy. 

In Japan, there is a culture of apologizing, to a point that can feel overdone and like a spectacle. (I mean, there was a Japanese esports pro who once apologised for seven minutes straight after losing a Puyo Puyo tournament.) Within this culture, it’s easy to see why a shoddy typo-laden “I’m sorry” with blame-shifting would simply not suffice. 

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