Olympics: Swiss player expelled for “insulting” tweet

The 23-year-old is the second athlete to be expelled over a racist Twitter comment.

By Karolos Grohmann | Reuters

London: Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella was expelled from the London Olympics on Monday for sending a message that the Swiss team said “gravely insulted and violated” the dignity ofSouth Korea after his team’s 2-1 defeat by the Koreans a day earlier.

“As a member of the Swiss Olympic mission he gravely discriminated, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team and the South Korean people,” Swiss team chief Gian Gillitold reporters.

The 23-year-old is the second athlete to be expelled over a racist Twitter comment.

Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was thrown out of her nation’s team last week, two days before the Games start.

In the message, with some syllables jumbled, for which he was expelled, Morganella said on Monday morning: “I punch you, South Koreans, go burn…” The rest of the message was considered sufficiently offensive by the Swiss team for Morganella to be sent home.

Gilli, who only read out a statement in German and did not take any questions, said Morganella’s comments were in direct violation of the International Olympic Committee’s and the Swiss team’s ethics codes.

“As a consequence of this behaviour Michel Morganella, having conferred with the Swiss Football Association, is immediately stripped of his Olympic accreditation and all future participation in the Olympic tournament.”

“The Swiss team will now focus entirely on the next match. I wish the team inner peace and serenity,” Gilli said.

The player himself said he accepted the sanction and apologised.

“I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result. I wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team, but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general. I obviously accept the consequences for my actions.”

The Swiss, third in Group B, play Mexico in their next on August 1 which is also Switzerland’s national day.

The London Games are the first Olympics where social media are so widespread and the International Olympic Committee has urged athletes to tweet but always respecting the Games ethics code which all teams and athletes have signed.

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