The striker is at the centre of controversy and has apologised for losing his temper
Austria star Marko Arnautovic has denied being a racist while apologising for making an offensive slur in his side’s win over North Macedonia.
Arnautovic scored in Austria’s 3-1 victory on Sunday and was seen gesturing in the direction of North Macedonia’s Ezgjan Alioski, allegedly saying: “I’m f***ing your Albanian mother”.
The striker has been accused of using a racially-charged word during his confrontation with Alioski, but Arnautovic has denied it while also apologising for the “heated” incident.
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What did Arnautovic have to say?
“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,” he wrote on Instagram.
“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 meaning behind the words
The use of language reportedly dates back to the Kosovo War, with Arnautovic, whose father is Serbian, targeting Alioski, who is of Albanian origins.
Arnautovic allegedly used an anti-Albanian slur towards Egzon Bejtulai before then celebrating his goal by yelling towards Alioski, only stopping after being restrained by team-mate David Alaba.
There is historic tension between Serbia and Albania, while Serbia and North Macedonia have long had a tense relationship.
The politics surrounding these countries were also a major talking point at the 2018 World Cup, when Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were fined £7,600 each after the two Swiss stars, who have Albanian links, celebrated by putting their hands together to form a double-headed eagle representing the Albanian flag during a game against Serbia.
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