‘I stand for diversity’: Euro 2020 hothead Arnautovic denies racist goal celebration as North Macedonia urge ‘harshest punishment’
Ex-Premier League striker Marko Arnautovic has denied that a crazed goal celebration in which he appeared to be restrained by his teammates was racially motivated – but North Macedonia chiefs say it was a “nationalistic outburst”.
Fiery forward Arnautovic, who was once described as having “the attitude of a child” by Jose Mourinho, reacted in explosive style after scoring his first international goal in two years with a minute remaining in Austria’s first ever win at a Euro finals.
Making it 3-1 to his side in their opener against the tournament debutants, antagonistic Arnautovic wheeled towards the crowd while appearing to rant angrily and gesture as teammate and new Real Madrid signing David Alaba seemed to attempt to physically stop him from shouting.
Marko Arnautović is fuming 😤
This guy chooses violence every time. pic.twitter.com/XtJzYIo7E7
— VERSUS (@vsrsus) June 13, 2021
Arnautovic was celebrating the goal saying “F*ck your Albanian mothers.”
Alaba was having none of it. 🙏pic.twitter.com/2OQ1LXnuqM
— 𝙰𝔩𝔩𝔲. (@GreatWhiteNueve) June 14, 2021
Reports had suggested that Arnautovic, whose father is Serbian, had directed his anger at two North Macedonia players with Albanian roots, Egzon Bejtulai and Ezgjan Alioski.
The Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) used a statement to claim that Arnautovic had been taunting Leeds wideman Alioski, but the prickly striker insisted on Instagram that he had a warm relationship with people sharing Alioski and Bejtulai’s heritage.
— ÖFB – oefb.at (@oefb1904) June 14, 2021
my mood reading all the generous commentary on how we must give Arnautovic the benefit of a doubt pic.twitter.com/Fn4KfJ5xel
— Bleta (@bletaarifi) June 14, 2021
“There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise – especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania,” wrote Arnautovic.
“I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that.”
— 👋 (@FIFASLAYER7) June 13, 2021
Marko Arnautovic is a great example of what you can achieve when you hate every manager you play for, every team you play for, all your teammates, and the very idea of football.
— Carl Kinsella (@TVsCarlKinsella) June 13, 2021
UEFA had been hoping that the finals would avoid any more talk of cross-nation tensions after Ukraine unveiled a much-debated new shirt last week containing a map and slogans that caused considerable unease with some audiences.
The tournament organizers have now been urged to take action against Arnautovic by the FFM, which was unequivocal in its assessment of his celebration.
According to Serbian media, Austrian striker with serb origin Marko Arnautović, screamed “F*ck your Albanian mothers!” after his goal against N. Macedonia
If true, I hope there is serious punishment from UEFA, especially since Xhaka and Shaqiri were fined after the 👐 celebration
— Xhul Lezha (@xhuliano23) June 13, 2021
Are you sure? Him and Shaqiri were teammates at Stoke City and they played well together. Didn’t appear like there was any animosity.
— Drilon S. Gashi (@dsgashi31) June 13, 2021
“The FFM strongly condemns the nationalistic outburst of Austrian player Marko Arnautovic,” the federation said.
“At the same time, we inform you that we have submitted an official letter to UEFA demanding the harshest punishment for Arnautovic.
Alaba helping Arnautovic celebrate his goal 😂 😂 pic.twitter.com/9UZEqcOQNS
— Los Blancos Live (@LosBlancos_Live) June 13, 2021
maximum respect to David Alaba. For context, this is Austria’s captain physically intervening on his own striker, Marco Arnautovic, who was celebrating scoring the winner with a racist rant against the Macedonian players. Goodbye Arnautovic. Kick racism out of football pic.twitter.com/RGrPdBpkm1
— ཊལབསརངཧ (@David_Rudnick) June 14, 2021
“We are always against nationalism, discrimination and all other forms of insults and outbursts that are not in the spirit of football and values that we all stand together.
“We will always stand up and defend the interests and dignity of Macedonian national players wherever they perform.”
Arnautovic’s teammates when he scored pic.twitter.com/k4UrtqGNIo
— suspected kgb agent (@uuhane) June 13, 2021
Arnautovic when a player breathes next to him: pic.twitter.com/6DeaBNLIU7
— øłî🏴 (@oliverrrwhu) June 13, 2021
There have been historic tensions between Serbia and both Albania and North Macedonia over the sovereignty of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared its independence in 2008.
Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri – two Switzerland players of Albanian-Kosovan heritage – were fined for making gestures during their match against Serbia in the 2018 World Cup.
— Mark Dignam (@MarkDignam_84) June 13, 2021
Thought Arnautovic was gonna do a Kietsbaia and kick the advertising hoarding for a second! pic.twitter.com/qIi8r8IkJx
— Andy / A-BombFM (@ABombFM) June 13, 2021
Arnautovic has been accused and cleared of racially abusive behavior previously. In 2009, when he played for Dutch side Twente, opponent Ibrahim Kargbo said Arnautovic had called him a “n*****”, with a subsequent investigation by the Dutch Football Association finding no evidence against the towering goal threat and dismissing the case.
The 32-year-old left West Ham for current side Shanghai SIPG for around $32 million in 2019, and is widely reported to earn around $300,000 a week in China.
He will be aiming to hit the net again when Austria face the Netherlands on Thursday, finishing their group stage campaign against Ukraine four days later.
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