The president of Japanese electronics commerce giant Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani, has said he will be asking FC Barcelona for explanations in the aftermath of a video of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembélé emerging on social media in which the Camp Nou and France teammates appear to be mocking hotel employees in Japan. The video is thought to have been made during Barça’s pre-season tour of the country in 2019, which was organized by Rakuten in the company’s capacity as Barça’s main shirt sponsor.
Rakuten to make formal protest to Barcelona
🗣Hiroshi Mikitani (CEO of Rakuten):
“As a sponsor and tour operator for the club, I regret the racist remarks made by some Barca players. Rakuten supported and patronized FC Barcelona’s philosophy, such actions are not acceptable under any circumstances”
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— Culers FCB (@CulersF) July 6, 2021
“As sponsor of the club and organizer of the pre-season tour, I very much regret that the Barcelona players have made discriminatory comments. As Rakuten has supported the philosophy of Barcelona and sponsors the club, these declarations are unacceptable under any circumstances and we will make a formal protest about them with the club, setting forth both points of view,” Mikatani wrote on Twitter.
The video of Dembélé and Griezmann emerged recently on social media platform Snapchat and caused controversy with the France ionternationals appearing to make fun of technicians who had arrived at Griezmann’s hotel room to fix his television. While Dembélé films the man at work, he is heard saying “what kind of backward language is that” and asking “are you technologically advanced in your country or not.”
Given Barcelona’s financial problems, angering the club’s main sponsor is unlikely to go down well at Camp Nou and it remains to be seen if any action will be taken against the players.
Griezmann and Dembélé both apologized for the video on Monday, claiming the comments had been taken ot of context and that they meant no offence.