Barcelona player Ansu Fati has received a statement of “regret” from a Spanish journalist who compared his moves on the pitch with an animal and illegal street vendor fleeing police.
ABC journalist Salvador Sostres wrote of Barcelona’s win over Ferencvaros on Tuesday that “Ansu when running has something of a gazelle, or a very young, black street vendor running” away from police.
The words led to an outpouring of anger on social media and renewed concerns over racism directed at Black football players.
Team-mate Antoine Griezmann was one of many readers who denounced the description by Sostres in a message on Twitter: “Ansu is an exceptional young man who deserves the same respect as any human being. No to racism and no to bad manners.”
Ansu es un chico excepcional que merece respeto como cualquier ser humano. No al racismo y no a la mala educación. pic.twitter.com/LZuJOzoTMG
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) October 21, 2020
ABC published a statement of regret by Sostres on Thursday.
“My intention was to praise the beauty of Ansu’s movement and his talent as a very young player,” Sostres wrote.
“Some expressions were understood as racist insults. Nothing was further from my intention, nor the very favourable opinion of the player that I have expressed in all the match reports I have written since his debut. I deeply lament the misunderstanding and I ask forgiveness if anyone has felt offended.”
Fati, who is Black, was born in Guinea Bissau and immigrated with his family to Spain when he was six years old. Now 17, he is one of Barcelona’s most promising players.
Barcelona says it was planning to sue the newspaper and journalist, but after Sostres’s apology, it is reconsidering what course to take.
In the first six weeks after football restarted in the United Kingdom after the coronavirus halted games, more than 40 percent of Black players were racially abused on social media, the Professional Footballers’ Association Charity said – prompting Man City’s Raheem Sterling to call for action.