Barcelona, PSG boycott TV network over racist Yamal comment

Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain boycotted interviews with Spanish broadcaster Movistar after Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal following a racist comment made by one of the on-air analysts, who was later fired.

Germán “Mono” Burgos, Diego Simeone’s former assistant manager at Atlético Madrid, was responsible for the remark, which was made about the Barça forward Lamine Yamal, a Spain international with Moroccan and Equatorial Guinean heritage.

“If football doesn’t work out for him, he can end up [working] at a traffic light,” Burgos said after watching Lamine Yamal perform tricks with the ball before Barça’s 3-2 first-leg win over PSG at the Parc des Princes.

The comment was deemed racist and classist in its allusion to those who ask drivers stopped at traffic lights for money and on Thursday, the network said that Burgos had been fired.

“I understand many of you want to hear from Barça players and coaches, but UEFA, PSG and Barça have informed us they will not speak to us because they are angry with a comment made in the studio before the game,” Movistar reporter Ricardo Sierra explained on air.

“Therefore, there won’t be any reaction, so I apologise from here — as we should do back in the studio.”

Burgos also offered an apology.

“I wish I had had the ability this kid has,” he said. “It was a comment made without meaning to hurt anyone. We talk about football, nothing else. If he felt offended, I am sorry and I apologise publicly.

“It was not the intention. Sometimes humour gets you into trouble. In these times you have to adapt to everything and that’s what we are doing.”

He later added on Instagram: “This statement is to reiterate my apology for my comment. It was not my intention to harm Lamine Yamal, Barcelona, the players, UEFA, nor the Movistar Plus+ platform where I work. In making the remark, I chose to make a joke about quality and flattering virtues, in no case was it about any ethnicity or social class.

“After working in football for so many years, I am excited to see the young players from the youth academy. I admire above all the amount of new talent that Barça are bringing through because I believe that quality always triumphs in the end. I am a pro-academy coach and in all the teams I have been in I have focused on bringing young players in to train with the first team. I apologise to anyone who was offended by my comment. My intention was not to denigrate Lamine Yamal, on the contrary.

“Football unites everything and everyone. That is why it is the best sport, because it does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation. This is what I believe in!”

Movistar apologised in a statement and said they “condemn any type of discrimination and will not allow these type of comments from any of the employees or collaborators linked to the platform,” adding they “will take the appropriate measures to ensure that these events do not happen again.”

The boycott comes on the back of repeated incidents of racism across Spanish football in recent months.

Real Madrid striker Vinícius Júnior has repeatedly been targeted by racist chants, while a third-division game was abandoned last week after insults were aimed at Rayo Majadahonda goalkeeper Cheikh Sarr.

Sarr confronted those fans and was subsequently handed a two-game ban for his actions, with Sestao, whose supporters had abused Sarr, awarded a 3-0 win after leading 2-1 at the time the match was suspended.

However, Sestao were also given a two-match stadium closure and a €6,001 ($6,496) fine after the disciplinary committee substantiated there was racially discriminatory behaviour directed at Sarr.

Burgos’ remark came on the night Lamine Yamal became the youngest player to appear in a Champions League quarterfinal at 16 years and 272 days old.

The teenager helped set up the first goal for Raphinha, but PSG came back in the second half with goals from Ousmane Dembélé, who joined the French club from Barça last summer, and Vitinha.

Raphinha’s second goal of the match drew Barça level again, with substitute Andreas Christensen heading in a winner for the Catalan side in Paris in the 77th minute.

The second leg will be played in Barcelona next Tuesday, with the winners facing either Atlético Madrid or Borussia Dortmund in the semifinal.