Rakuten executive Hiroshi Mikitani said the company is upset after Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele made "discriminatory remarks" in recently circulated videos.
Rakuten is a major sponsor of the club. Its name appears on the front of Barcelona's jersey. In a statement — which has been translated by Google translate — Mikitani said Griezmann and Dembele's actions were "unacceptable." Mikitani's statement also mentions a "protest" in his tweet.
The videos, which were reportedly shot during a preseason tour in Japan before the 2019-20 campaign, show hotel staff trying to fix a television. While they are working on the television, Dembele, who is filming the video, reportedly says, "What kind of backward language is that?" He adds, "Are you technologically advanced in your country or not?" according to The Athletic.
In another video, Griezmann reportedly uses an affected accent and says "ching chong."
Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele issue statements
Dembele and Griezmann have issued statements addressing those videos. Dembele said he "would have used the same expressions" no matter where he was. He claimed he wasn't specifically "targeting any community." Dembele apologized to the people in the video, saying he realized they may be offended now that the video has gone public.
Griezmann said he has always opposed discrimination. He said he was sorry to his "Japanese friends," but refuted "the accusations made against me."
Barcelona has not commented on the videos.
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