Antoine Griezmann under fire for blackface basketball costume

Photo: Antoine Griezmann on Twitter. (Getty)

Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann, at least from afar, seems like one of the most likable players in world football. Or at least he seemed like one of the most likable. His game is delightful. He plays and celebrates with joy.

On Sunday, though, that statement flew out the window. Griezmann posted a terribly insensitive picture of himself in a blackface costume, with the caption, “80’s Party”:

(Screenshot: Antoine Griezmann on Twitter)

The French striker was immediately blasted for the photo on social media. Forty-five minutes after it was posted, it had not yet been deleted. Somehow. Eventually, over an hour later, it was deleted.

Griezmann apparently posted Instagram videos of himself in the blackface costume as well.

Griezmann posted a second tweet around an hour later, in which he wrote, “Calm down guys, I am a Harlem Globetrotters fan … it’s a tribute.”

Soon after that, he deleted both, and tweeted an apology. “I recognize that it was clumsy of me,” he wrote. “If I have offended people, I apologize.”

Griezmann is an avid basketball fan who regularly visits NBA games in the U.S. He very easily could have done this costume with just the wig, the jersey and the shorts. It might have even been pretty funny. But he had to go and not only paint his face black, but paint his whole body black. Or at least that’s what it looks like. Come on, man.

Griezmann immediately received considerable backlash, both from fans and the media:

By the way, a significant number of players on the French national team – of which Griezmann is a crucial part – are black. We’ll see if he gets any public or private criticism from some of those players as well.

If there is any explanation for Griezmann’s decision to post this, perhaps it’s that blackface costumes are not as frowned upon in Spain or France as they are elsewhere in, for example, the United States or England. That’s not an excuse, of course. Just an explanation.

Let’s settle this once and for all. Wearing a blackface costume is completely unacceptable. Don’t do it. Especially if you’re a wildly popular professional athlete with a public reputation to uphold.