Barcelona and France star Antoine Griezmann has had his partnership with Konami cancelled by the Japanese tech giant after he appeared to mock Asian people in a video with team-mate Ousmane Dembele.
World Cup winner Griezmann was announced as an ambassador with Yu-Gi-Oh, a Japanese cartoon series, back in June but Konami, who have published Yu-Gi-Oh video games, have now snapped that agreement.
Konami also said they will seek further information about the video of Griezmann and Dembele from Barcelona, a club that they have a partnership with through their Pro Evolution Soccer video game.
Antoine Griezmann has been dropped from his Yu-Gi-Oh partnership with Konami after a video of him appearing to mock Asian people surfaced on social media. Here, Griezmann is pictured announcing his agreement with Konami in June
Griezmann appears in the leaked clip, believed to be from 2019, alongside his France and Barcelona team-mate Dembele
A statement said: ‘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.’
The leaked social media video, which is believed to have been filmed in 2019, appeared to show Dembele mocking Asian technicians’ background and appearance, and Griezmann appeared in the clip grinning.
It is understood that the technicians were fixing a problem in the hotel room and three men were in conversation around a television screen.
Griezmann and Dembele played for France in their ill-fated Euro 2020 campaign
Griezmann won the World Cup with France back in 2018 and here, is pictured celebrating with the French president Emmanuel Macron (left)
It is thought to be Dembele, who can be heard in the video telling Griezmann: ‘All these ugly faces, just so you can play PES [Pro Evolution Soccer], aren’t you ashamed?’
Then Dembele adds: ‘What kind of backward language is that?’ and ‘Are you technologically advanced in your country or not?’
Konami’s move comes as Hiroshi Mikitani, co-founder of Rakuten, one of Barcelona’s main sponsors, hit out at the pair in a statement on Twitter.
He wrote: ‘As a sponsor of the club and organiser of this tournament, I am really sorry that the Barcelona players made discriminatory remarks.
‘Especially as Rakuten has approved of the Barcelona philosophy and is a sponsor of the club, these sorts of remarks are unacceptable in all circumstances and we will protest officially against the club, as we wait to hear their position on the matter.’
Hiroshi Mikitani, co-founder of Rakuten, said he will ‘officially protest’ to Barcelona
On Monday, Dembele wrote in a statement: ‘Recently, a private video from 2019 has been circulating on social networks.
‘The scene happens to be in Japan. It could have taken place anywhere on the planet, I would have used the same expressions.
‘So I wasn’t targeting any community. I sometimes use these kinds of expressions in private, with friends, regardless of their origin.’
Dembele added: ‘This video is now public. I can therefore imagine that it could have offended the people present in these images. Therefore, I offer them my most sincere apologies.’
Griezmann, meanwhile, was also quick to issue an apology on Twitter, writing: ‘I have been committed against any form of discrimination. For the past few days, some people have wanted to pass me off as the man I am not.
‘I firmly refute the accusations made against me and I am sorry if I [offended] my Japanese friends.’
Dembele is believed to have recorded the video and therefore only his legs can be seen, while Griezmann is recorded saying something inaudible at the start, but is then only seen laughing.
This is not the first time Griezmann has been caught up in a racism storm however, having caused outrage on social media in 2017 after posting a photograph of himself in blackface as part of a fancy dress costume.
Griezmann was caught up in a race storm after posing for a photo in blackface back in 2017
The Barcelona and France pair are known to be good friends and are often seen joking around at training sessions for club and country.
The duo were involved for the world champions at the Euros, but Dembele’s tournament was cut short due to a knee injury suffered in the group stages against Hungary.
France then crashed out against Switzerland on penalties in a shock elimination in the round of 16.