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Racism scandal hits France's Dembele and Griezmann

James Thorogood
July 4, 2021

Less than a week after the French national team were knocked out of Euro 2020, two of their players have been swept up in a racism scandal. The news is the latest that paints a picture of a quarreling football nation.

Ousmane Dembele shoots in a game against Hungary
Ousmane Dembele featured in France's opening two games of Euro 2020 before picking up an injury that ruled him out for the rest of the tournamentImage: Tibor Illyes/Getty Images

Less than a week after the French national team were knocked out of Euro 2020, two of their players have been swept up in a racism scandal.

Over the course of the weekend, a video of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele started circulating on social networks. In it, the two FC Barcelona players mock Asians, but it is unclear when the video originated. 

The news comes in the wake of France’s elimination in the round of 16 penalty shootout against Switzerland and follows reports of major internal discord within Didier Deschamps’ squad involving Kylian Mbappe, Adrien Rabiot and Griezmann. 

Now one of their World Cup heroes turned Euro 2020 flops, finds himself in hot water following even more serious allegations. The trigger is a video featuring a grinning and laughing Griezmann and reportedly recorded by Dembele. 

The two are watching on as a group of men in a hotel, who appeared to be of Asian origin, work on repairing the room’s television in an attempt to allow the players to play Pro Evolution Soccer, a popular video game. The player filming makes fun of the men, talking about "all these ugly faces," before mocking their language. Griezmann grins and laughs.

The video is apparently not new, and it's unlikely that it was created during the European Championships given the contrast in Griezmann's hairstyles. Some have speculated the video could date back to as many as two years ago.

Irrespective of when it was filmed, the video has sparked outrage under the hashtag #StopAsianHate. There have been calls for the French Football Federation to release a statement and consider consequences for the players involved.

France head coach Didier Deschamps
Deschamps is looking to rebuild a divided squad in time for the 2022 World Cup in QatarImage: Franck Fife/REUTERS

The latest development adds a few more strokes to a picture of a quarreling football nation. During the European Championships, the players and their families were regularly caught bickering, while head coach Deschamps clashed with Bayern star Kingsley Coman on the pitch. 

After being knocked out of Euro 2020, France will now turn their attention to defending their World Cup title in 2022. The question is how calm will the waters be when they travel to Qatar.

James Thorogood Sports reporter and editor, host of Project FußballJMThorogood