"I am a Chinese, I just want to say to Lavezzi, get out of my country"
Argentinian footballer Ezequiel Lavezzi has come under fire after making a “racist” gesture during a Chinese Super League photo session.
The controversy comes in the same week that the Argentine was confirmed as the highest-paid player in football, earning £798,000 per week, according to The Sun.
A photo of Lavezzi, who plays as for Chinese club Hebei China Fortune, shows the forward smiling and making a gesture of stretching his eyes.
The photo has since caused a backlash on Twitter, with one user writing “I am a Chinese, I just want to say to Lavezzi get out of my country.”
Another wrote, “This is so freaking insulting!”.
A spokesman from Kick if Out told The Sun: “Only Ezequiel Lavezzi and the photographer will know what they were doing or trying to achieve in taking this photograph.
“It was poor judgement to take part in a photo which is offensive to many and discriminatory. Greater thought should have been given to considering the consequences of such actions.”
This is Argentinian international Ezequiel Lavezzi, who plays his football in China. The year is 2017. pic.twitter.com/VGxsyvDVGF
— Mark Dreyer (@DreyerChina) May 12, 2017
@DreyerChina I am a Chinese, I just want to say to Lavezzi, get out of my country
— asokachou (@asokachou) May 13, 2017
Ezequiel Lavezzi GET OUT OF CHINA YOU DISGUSTING RACIST!!!
— 诸君北面我自西向 (@fuyihang) May 14, 2017
@DreyerChina This is so freaking insulting! Wtf
— Ruiting Zhan (@Williams_Zhan) May 13, 2017
@DreyerChina Shame on you lavezzi
— amber Liu (@iamber0120) May 13, 2017
UPDATE: Lavezzi has since apologised in a statement according to the New York Times.
“Per the request of the Chinese Super League, we took the official photos for the season,” Lavezzi said in the statement issued on Sunday.
“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’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 apologise if this photo has offended the Chinese public and fans. I will be more careful in the future.”