Griezmann says sorry for blackface photo after 'racist' controversy

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The Atletico Madrid star dressed up as a Harlem Globetrotter for a party, but drew a fierce response on Twitter

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has apologised after attracting criticism from his followers after posting an image on Twitter of himself dressed as a Harlem Globetrotter, sporting 'blackface' make-up.

Griezmann was wearing a full basketball uniform and an afro wig in a picture captioned "80's party", along with an emoji indicating joyous laughter.

Responses quickly labelled the post "racist", urging Griezmann to delete the tweet and warning of a backlash.

Griezmann blackface on Twitter

Following a storm of replies on the player's account, Griezmann followed up by calling the costume a tribute to the legendary basketball team.

Griezmann blackface explanation twitter

"Calm down friends, I am a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of that beautiful era, it is a tribute," he said on Twitter. 

That explanation did not help the controversy, and Griezmann eventually deleted the picture before posting an apology.

"I admit it's awkward from me," he wrote. "If I did hurt anybody, then I apologise."

By that point, however, Griezmann's original post had been retweeted more than 15,000 times as the image went viral around the world.

Racism remains a sensitive topic in Spanish football circles, with players at times subjected to abusive chants from fans.

Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid

Former England striker Stan Collymore was among those to condemn the picture on social media, writing on Twitter: "A simple Google search will tell you the context of black face and where it came from. Instead of saying 'I don't think that's racist', put yourself in others shoes, read a little and then say 'ok, I hear ya.'"

Steve Zakuani, a Congo international who played in MLS from 2009 to 2014, also criticised Griezmann's post.

"Sad to see this from one of my favourite players," he wrote. "But our skin is not a costume to wear for 'fun'. People struggle through life just for having this skin so it should not be worn for entertainment purposes.

"I think it's an honest mistake from him but it’s still not right."

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