Konami has killed a contract with Barcelona and France footballer Antoine Griezmann after a video emerged of him and teammate Ousmane Dembele making racist remarks about Asian hotel staff. The video was recorded by Dembele and dates back to 2019, both of the players apologising, but saying that the video was mischaracterised.
Griezmann was recently announced by Konami to be their ambassador for Yu-Gi-Oh!, but following the video’s appearance, Konami has decided to cut ties. Additionally, as FC Barcelona is a partner for the eFootball PES franchise, they have called on the club to detail the case and make any further actions known.
Konami Digital Entertainment believes, as is the philosophy of sports, that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.
Previously we had announced Antoine Griezmann as our Yu-Gi-Oh! contents ambassador, however in light of recent events we have decided to cancel the contract.
With regard to our eFootball PES franchise, we will be requesting FC Barcelona as a club partner to explain the details of this case and its future actions.
Both Griezmann and Dembele have issued public statements, with Dembele claiming that these were not comments directed at asian people, but rather a running joke at all people.
“Hello all, during these last few days, a private video dating back to 2019 has been circulating on social media. It all took place in Japan. It could’ve taken place anywhere on the planet and I would’ve used the same expression.
I was therefore not targetting any community. I just happened to use this type of expression with my friends regardless of their origins.
This video has since been made public. I appreciate therefore that it could’ve hurt the people present in these images. Because of this, I would like to sincerely apologise to them.
Similarly, Griezmann posted on Twitter:
I have always been completely against all forms of discrimination.
For the past few days, certain people have wanted to paint me as someone that I am not. I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I’m sorry if I have offended any of my Japanese friends.
So far there has been no action taken by Barcelona publicly, but hopefully they investigate and take the matter seriously. Their response so far has simply to say that both players have apologised and that they “reserve the right to take the internal measures that it considers appropriate.”
It might help that Japanese partners such as Konami and online retailer Rakuten are pushing them to do so. Then again, I’m sure we can also expect them to just get a little slap on the wrist and their team supporters will have forgotten about it by the next time they score a goal.