Konami has cancelled its contract with Antoine Griezmann after a video in which the France and Barcelona star appears to ridicule Asian hotel staff resurfaced this week.
The Snapchat video, which appears to show Griezmann as well as teammate Ousmane Dembele mocking Asian technicians during Barcelona’s tour of Japan in 2019, has sparked a vociferous backlash amid racism allegations.
According to ESPN, in the video Dembele says to Griezmann: “All these ugly faces, just so you can play PES, aren’t you ashamed?”
Dembele then appears to mock the Japanese language before asking: “are you advanced in your country or not?”
Griezmann’s audio is hard to make out, but he is seen laughing as the hotel staff try to fix a television so he can play PES.
In response, Konami has ditched Griezmann as its Yu-Gi-Oh! contents ambassador, and asked Barcelona, which is a PES partner club, how it will handle the situation.
“Konami Digital Entertainment believes, as is the philosophy of sports, that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable,” Konami said in a statement.
“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.”
Barcelona’s main sponsor, the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, had already demanded an explanation from the Catalan club in relation to the video.
Griezmann has posted an apology on Twitter, saying he has “always been committed against any form of discrimination”. “I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I am sorry if I have offended my Japanese friends,” he continued.
Dembele has also apologised on social media, insisting no racist intent.
Barcelona issued a statement today, saying Griezmann and Dembele “displayed a lack of respect in their attitude towards several employees in the hotel in which they were staying”.
“This attitude in no way coincides with the values that FC Barcelona represents and defends.”
Barcelona then went on to apologise, insisting it’s “committed to making sure episodes of this nature do not repeat themselves”.
“The players have already shown their regret and have apologised to Japanese fans and partners, something that the club values. Nevertheless, FC Barcelona reserve the right to take the internal measures that it considers appropriate.”
Konami has a close relationship with Barcelona, and has issued special club editions of PES that involve promotional work from its players, including Griezmann.