An Argentinian football star has apologized after posing for a photo by peeling back the corners of his eyes — presumably in an attempt to look more Chinese.
The distasteful photo of Ezequiel Lavezzi who plays for Hebei China Fortune F.C. of the Chinese Super League went viral on international and Chinese social media over the weekend, offending most everyone. On Sunday, the striker tried to make amends by issuing a statement:
Per the request of the Chinese Super League, we took the official photos for the season. We were given instructions by the official photographer and I was trying to make some interesting photos by making some funny faces, which would be used afterwards for entertainment purposes.
I had no intention of insulting the Chinese people and did not do it with any bad intentions. I’m very happy to be here as part of the Hebei club. I have had great time here with my team mates and it has been a great journey. Every Chinese person around me is friendly and I love my life here.
I deeply apologize if this photo has offended the Chinese public and fans. I will be more careful in the future.
Lavezzi joined Hebei CFFC last year, signing a deal that made him one of the highest paid football players in the world. Reportedly Lavezzi makes $15 million per season playing for Hebei, more than both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Hebei has also released a statement defending their star player, denying that the photo had been officially released by the club:
Since joining us at the beginning of 2016, Lavezzi has been getting along very well with the team and been loved by fans too. He has expressed his love for China many times too. Now we have communicated with him and have clarified he had no bad intentions and he deeply apologized for any offense caused.
As a club we apologize for our neglect in our work. We will be more careful in the future.
Despite the fact that it’s now the 21st century, “slanty-eyed” photos continue to pop every now and again, like before the 2008 Beijing Olympics when the Spanish basketball team posed for this picture:
Or in 2014, when a Bangkok mall used this billboard to advertise its Chinese New Year sales:
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