Barcelona sponsor Rakuten to make ‘formal protest’ after Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele video

Barcelona sponsor Rakuten to make ‘formal protest’ after Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele video

Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele denied making racist remarks in leaked video. Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Pictures

Barcelona are facing a backlash from Rakuten, the club’s main sponsor, after a video was leaked on social media which showed Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann appearing to mock Asian staff.

Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani has demanded a full explanation from the club and wants to know if they’re planning on taking any action against the two players.

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Dembele and Griezmann both apologised on Monday but denied there was any racist intent behind their comments, which occurred during the club’s tour of Japan in 2019.

“As a sponsor of the club and the organiser of the tour, I regret the players’ racist remarks,” Mikitani posted on social media on Tuesday.

“Rakuten endorsed Barcelona’s philosophy and has supported the membership as a sponsor, subsequently such behaviour is unacceptable beneath any circumstances. I’ll make a proper protest to the membership and search their views.”

Football4cast has reached out to Barcelona for remark.

The video, which was recorded by Dembele, circulated on-line over the weekend and exhibits each gamers laughing at a gaggle of technicians working to repair one thing in a resort room.

“All of it passed off in Japan, however it might have taken place anyplace on the planet and I’d have used the identical expression,” Dembele wrote on Monday.

“I used to be subsequently not concentrating on any group. I simply occurred to make use of this sort of expression with my buddies no matter their origins.

“This video has since been made public. I recognize subsequently that it might have harm the individuals current in these photographs. Due to this, I wish to sincerely apologise to them.”

Griezmann later posted that he was “fully in opposition to all types of discrimination” and that he “refuted the accusations made in opposition to me and I am sorry if I’ve offended any of my Japanese buddies.”

There was no affirmation from Barca, the Spanish FA or the France Football Federation about potential punishment for the gamers.

Rakuten changed Qatar Airways as Barca’s shirt sponsor in 2017 in a four-year deal value as much as €61.5 million yearly relying on the membership’s success in La Liga and the Champions League.

The Japanese e-commerce firm prolonged its hyperlink with the membership by a further 12 months final November, till the summer time of 2022.

Nonetheless, as a result of coronavirus pandemic, Barca have been pressured to just accept diminished phrases of between €30m and €40m, sources advised Football4cast on the time.

Mikitani is shut buddies with Gerard Pique and it was his relationship with the Barca defender that led to the formalisation of a sponsorship settlement with the Catalan membership.

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