Konami has sacked Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann as a brand ambassador less than a month after signing the footballer to represent the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise.
As reported in South China Morning Post, the decision came following the emergence of controversial videos of the French footballer and his team mate Ousmane Dembele from a club tour to Japan in 2019.
In the video, Griezmann and Dembele, who both played for France in Euro 2020, are shown appearing to mock Asian workers fixing a television in their hotel room. It has been shared on social media, with some using the #StopAsianHate hashtag.
According to the South China Morning Post report when the video first emerged last week, Dembele appears to say to Griezmann: “All these ugly faces, just so you can play PES, aren’t you ashamed?”
— nahidul 🏴 (@duatleti) July 1, 2021
Dembele appears to be the one recording the video, making other comments like “What kind of backward language is that?” and “Are you technologically advanced in your country or not?” while zooming in on one of the workers.
Griezmann is seen laughing along to his teammate while he also says something towards the end of the clip, although this is inaudible.
“Konami Digital Entertainment Inc. believes that no discrimination is tolerated, as is the philosophy of sports,” reads a statement from Konami, who owns the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise as well as PES, which has included Barcelona as an official partner since 2016.
“Yu-Gi-Oh! Content has decided to cancel the ambassador contract with Griezmann. In soccer content, we will ask FC Barcelona as a club partner to explain the details of this matter and future measures.”
Je me suis toujours engagé contre toute forme de discrimination. Depuis quelques jours certaines personnes veulent me faire passer pour l’homme que je ne suis pas. Je réfute avec fermeté les accusations qui me sont portées et je suis désolé si j’ai pu offenser mes amis japonais.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) July 5, 2021
Both Dembele and Griezmann have issued apologies on social media, although fans have criticised them for not doing more. It’s clear that Konami has taken the matter seriously, as has Barcelona’s main sponsor Rakuten, also a Japanese company, who has asked the club to explain the incidents.
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