LONDON: Swiss defender Michel Morganella has been expelled from the Olympic Games, ahead of Wednesday’s final group match against Mexico, for posting a racist message on Twitter.
The incident erupted 24 hours before Sepp Blatter, president of world football federation FIFA, shares an anti-racism press conference stage with the Kick It Out pressure group.
Gian Gilli, chef de mission of the Swiss Olympic team, said the 23-year-old who plays his club football in Italy with Palermo had discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people.”
Morganella posted an offensive and threatening message aimed at “all Koreans” after Switzerland slipped to the brink of Olympics elimination after a 2-1 defeat by South Korea on Sunday. The account has since been deleted.
He is the second Olympic athlete sacked for offensive Twitter comments. Greece barred triple jumper Voula Papachristou from even flying to London to join the squad last week after she posted a comment mocking African immigrants.
Morganella, born on May 17, 1989, with an Italian father and Swiss mother, made his name as a teenager with FC Basel and transferred to Sicily in January 2009. He was loaned out to Serie B club Novara then reclaimed by Palermo just before the Olympics.
At the Olympics he played the full 90 minutes in both Switzerland’s 1-1 draw with Gabon and then the defeat by South Korea.
Concern about racist interaction among players became a headline issue last year in England after one incident involving Chelsea’s John Terry and QPR’s Anton Ferdinand and another between Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
By Keir Radnedge