Marko Arnautovic issues apology after alleged racist slur during game
"I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity."
Marko Arnautovic has denied he is racist after reportedly saying an offensive slur after scoring at the Euros.
Arnautovic was seen in a heated confrontation with Ezgjan Alioski during his Austrian side's clash with North Macedonia.
The forward came off the bench and scored the third goal late on to wrap up a 3-1 victory for Austria against the European minnows. After scoring, Arnautovic allegedly made a racial slur in the direction of North Macedonia's Alioski, saying "I'm fucking your Albanian mother," according to Albanian website Koha.
When you've just scored for #AUT at @Euro2020 - and clearly want to get something off your chest...
What did you make of this Marko Arnautovic celebration? 🤔#ITVFootball | #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/5yBCyWxcjo
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 13, 2021
It is thought that the slur was in relation to the Kosovan War in which Serbia and Albania came into conflict over the region. Arnautovic's father is Serbian, and Alioski can speak Albanian.
The Austrian reportedly made the slur in Serbian so that the Leeds United defender would understand him. Arnautovic's team mate and captain David Alaba could be seen holding the forward's mouth after he scored the goal, appearing to try to stop him speaking.
Arnautovic has now taken to Instagram to apologise, putting up a statement on his story. The Austrian wrote: "There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to APOLOGIZE - especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania."
"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."
The Mail reports that he has escaped a fine for the statement, although there are calls for him to face some sort of punishment.
Back in 2018, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were each fined £7,600 for celebrating a goal by forming a double-headed eagle with their hands in a match against Serbia. Both players have Albanian links, and the double-headed eagle is a prominent feature on the Albanian flag.