Juventus have been accused of "blatant racism" and were forced to issue an apology after a Tweet was posted on their women’s team’s official account showing one of their players making an offensive eye gesture.
After the post was live for around 25 minutes, receiving widespread criticism, the club eventually deleted the Tweet and issued an apology that was widely criticised.
They then issued a longer statement on Friday morning, which said: "We would like to express our deepest apologies for the social post that read as racially discriminatory content on the Juventus Women’s Football Twitter account yesterday. Juventus immediately realised that the Club had committed an unforgivable mistake, and this mistake has seriously hurt the feelings of all people who oppose racial discrimination.
"For such a mistake, the Club assumes full responsibility for the occurrence of the incident and its serious impact. Opposing racial discrimination and supporting the common development of multiple cultures are the principles that Juventus as a Club has always adhered to and continues to put into practice. Juventus acknowledges this mistake, and the Club will make the most profound reflection and thorough review to prevent similar things from happening again."
The Tweet, which appears to have been scheduled in advance using the social media management platform Hootsuite, was posted at 19:15 BST, picturing one of Cecilia Salvai using her fingers to narrow their eyes, as well as wearing a red training cone on their head in the shape of a hat.
Juventus deleted the Tweet shortly after it was posted
Social media users quickly responded in their thousands to condemn Juventus’ post, which also included emojis that seemingly made light of the scene pictured.
The club have not commented further, but one employee told Telegraph Sport that senior staff were “mortified” when they saw the post online.
For many, Juventus’ apologetic statement did not go far enough. American sports commentator Keith Olbermann, who has more than 1m Twitter followers, said: "Another one of those “we’re sorry if YOU are offended” non-apology apology. It’s blatant racism, Juventus. Acknowledge it, apologise, ask for forgiveness."
Juventus have won four consecutive women’s Serie A titles since forming a senior women’s side, and have qualified for the 2021-22 season’s Women’s Champions League. They won all 22 of their domestic league fixtures last term.
They are now coached by former Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro, after he left the north London club at the end of last season and took charge of the Turin-based outfit in June. He is yet to take charge of a competitive fixture.
Florida-based club Orlando Pride appeared to respond to the incident by posting a message on social media with their England striker Jodie Taylor wearing a t-shirt displaying the words ‘Stop Asian hate’.
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) August 5, 2021