Liverpool’s Pepe Reina in Race Row

Updated: March 1, 2012

Liverpool and Spain goalkeeper Pepe Reina was today at the centre of a race row after MultiNational insurance giant Groupama Seguros seemingly pulled a TV advert following a complaint from British group “Operation Black Vote”.

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In the ad, Reina meets a tribe in a jungle . Reina – whose name translates as queen in Spanish – attracts the attentions of the leader. Reina is chosen as a partner by the tribal chief, who says: ‘Me King, you Queen.’ He responds by raising his eyebrows before saying sarcastically: ‘I feel safe, la la la.’

Simon Woolley, the OBV director, said: “I’m shocked on so many levels. Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals? Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina? The Liverpool goalkeeper has lived and worked in the UK for nearly a decade; does he think it’s OK to characterise black people this way? Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke? It’s back in the fifties this kind of stuff. They [Groupama] said they were ‘going to withdraw it immediately but have done nothing wrong. But if you’re upset then we apologise’.

“Given that Liverpool football club is trying to move forward from the Suarez affair, it is a shame that another one of their players has caused offence by appearing in an advert that seems to come from a bygone era. Those who are old enough might remember those despicable Zulu ads for cigarettes of the 1970s.”

Liverpool declined to comment last night, believing that this is a matter for Reina since the ad.was not made with their knowledge ; Groupama said: “Groupama Seguros does not consider that this advert contains either offensive nor any discriminatory content.”

There has been a mixed reaction from readers in the British press with vast majority.. . so far … expressing the view that political correctness has ‘gone too far’ and others blaming the British media . Here is a typical selection of “READERS COMMENTS ” in mainstream media outlets:

“Daily Mail reader: “This publication and, to be fair, several of the others apparently have no qualms about promoting a statement which brands Reina a racist but turn a blind eye to the fact that the statement itself aligns homosexuality with being “stupid, backward and animalistic”. I would argue, strongly, that there is rather more suggestion of homophobia in the OBV statement than there is of racism in the original video. This sort of statement and the willingness of so many papers to re-print it without questioning it only serves to undermine efforts to highlight genuine instances of racism and combat them. One has to wonder at the motivations of those jumping all over this. In the wake of the Suarez controversy, perhaps some people are seeing the story they want to see when in fact there is nothing there”

Another Mail reader: “I do not see any racist or Xenophobic tone in the advert, it was all tongue in cheek. For the records I am an African and do not find it offensive. Is this really a story or it is one of those non stories?”

A Sun readers comment : “I have seen all the series of Pepe Reina commercials on the TV here in Spain, and do you know what…the British are the only people to have taken offence!!. Even black people I know here in Spain laughed them off…they should be taken off the TV, but only because Reina tries to be funny with his cruddy jokes and it’s embarassing to watch. The one where the coach driver with bottle glasses asks for his autograph whilst his near blind mother drives the coach towards a coming lorry is much worse, seeing as it was shown the same night as the recent coach crash in France…did anyone moan about that? No, didn’t think so.”

Another Sun reader : “ i really dont think these people know what the term racism mean. i watched the ad am i’m left shocked and confused how someone could class that as racism. they need to realise that by them doing things like this it’s not helping to fight racism at all”.

Have you seen the ad. in question ? What do YOU think?

Late news: Despite the British media widely reporting that the advert had been pulled, sources in Spain suggest it was still running a short time ago, at least in some regions.

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