Football player apologizes for ‘slant eyes’ gesture
Argentinian football player Ezequiel Lavezzi.[Photo:weibo.com]
Argentinian football player Ezequiel Lavezzi apologized via Sina Weibo on Sunday for his "slant eyes" photo which had attracted widespread criticism for being racist on Chinese social media since it was posted on twitter on Friday.
In a statement posted both in Spanish and Chinese, Lavezzi said "I sincerely apologize and promise that such things would never happen again." He said he felt very happy to play football in China and found Chinese people to be very "kind and friendly."
At the same time, Hebei China Fortune Football Club, where Lavezzi works, issued a statement on its official Weibo account along with Lavezzi's apology, clarifying that Lavezzi's poise in the photo did not intend to humiliate Chinese people but to exhibit a relaxing and funny style according to the photographer's instructions, and that "no one on the scene found it inappropriate."
The club also claimed in the statement that "the photo was never released publicly or used in any form of promotion."
After the photo was released on twitter, former British Sky Sports reporter Mark Dreyer commented that "it's a gesture that is generally regarded in much of the West as offensive/derogatory toward Asians."
The photo stirred widespread criticism on Chinese social media. The official Sino Weibo account of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China reposted that "Lavezzi gets more salary than Messi but he insulted us Chinese when earning our money." A netizen chided that "please don't think we Chinese are rich and stupid."
A screenshot of the post by the official Sino Weibo account of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China. [Photo: China Plus]
However, some people thought differently. "I don't know what the gesture stands for in other countries, but in China it does not necessarily mean anything. At least it is not a universally recognized offensive gesture. I don't really feel offended and don't think it's a big deal," a Chinese Super League football fan surnamed Qi told the Global Times.
Lavezzi reportedly joined the Hebei club in February in 2016 in a deal worth around $10.93 million.
"Since joining us at the beginning of 2016, Lavezzi has been getting along very well with the team and has been loved by fans," read the Hebei club statement. "As a club we apologize for the neglect in our work. We will be more careful in the future."