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FOOTBALL

French footballer’s ‘blacked-up’ photo sparks outrage

France forward and Atletico Madrid player Antoine Griezmann was forced to remove a photograph from Twitter showing him blacked up and mimicking a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player after the post caused controversy on Sunday.

French footballer's 'blacked-up' photo sparks outrage
Photo: AFP
Griezmann was wearing a basketball jersey and a wig with his face, legs and arms blacked up alongside the caption “80's party” in the photograph on his personal Twitter page.
   
Although the post initially provoked little comment in Spain where Griezmann has spent the entirety of his professional career, many Twitter users around the world questioned the 26-year-old player's choice of fancy
dress, with some saying it was racist.
 
   
Griezmann first responded to the criticism by posting: “Calm down friends, I am a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and this beautiful era… it's a tribute.”
   
He did not immediately delete the original photo, but later he did remove the post and then tweeted an apology.
 
“I recognise that it was clumsy of me. If I have offended people, I apologise,” he wrote.
   
Some of the strongest reaction came from abroad. British left-wing lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: “There are so, so many different options for an 80's party… that don't involve blackface. I can't believe we're out here in 2017 saying don't dress up in blackface.”
   
Griezmann was top scorer for France at Euro 2016 and his performances on the pitch have seen him become one of Europe's most marketable footballers, working with big brands such as Puma and EA Sports.
   
Earlier on Sunday, Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported Barcelona are ready to beat Manchester United to his signing next summer by meeting the 100 million euro buyout clause in his Atletico contract.

COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

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