Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Spanish sport's poor reputation for insensitivity towards racial issues has been further harmed by an advertisement in which the country's Beijing Olympic basketball teams make slit-eyed gestures. The pictures, used in a promotion for a courier company that sponsors the Spanish Basketball Federation, took up a full page of the popular sports daily Marca. Both the men's and women's teams posed in separate images, striking the pose in a campaign aimed at supporting the Spanish basketball efforts in China. Although no offence was intended by either the players or the Spanish federation, the advertisement is unlikely to be viewed kindly at a time when the Spanish Olympic committe is pursuing a bid to stage the Games in 2016. Spanish sport has been placed under severe scrutiny for a number of recent incidents, including the monkey chants aimed at England's black football players by football fans at a November 2004 friendly international in Madrid, for which the Spanish football federation was fined by world governing body Fifa. Former national team coach Luis Aragones also caused controversy by remarks about France striker Thierry Henry. Last year, a small number of Formula One fans targeted British driver Lewis Hamilton during a testing day at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.

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