As most Euro 2021 players kneel down before each match to fight racism, Marko Arnautovic's attitude on Sunday sparked outrage.
After scoring Austria's third goal against North Macedonia, the Shanghai forward SIPG turned to one of his opponents to yell and form a zero with his fingers.
Exhausted, he started hitting her chest.
David Alaba rushed over to try to silence him and calm him down.
According to a Serbian tabloid, Arnautovic was targeting Ezgjan Alioski, the Macedonian left-back of Albanian origin who allegedly insulted his mother in particular.
The scene ignited social networks and some demanded the suspension of the 32-year-old striker with a sulphurous reputation.
In an attempt to put out the fire, Arnautovic appeared in front of the media on Monday.
He denied any racist act and even apologized.
"I am not a racist, I have never been," he says.
I apologize to everyone I have run into.
I reacted with my heart, but there is nothing political about it.
I am not a racist and I will never be a racist.
To explain his attitude, he evokes "a battle of words" between him and the players of North Macedonia.
"It's part of the game," he pleads awkwardly.
💬 Marko #Arnautovic!
- ÖFB - oefb.at (@ oefb1904) June 14, 2021
The sports director of the Austrian team, Peter Schöttel, defended his imposing striker (1.92 m), passed in particular by Inter Milan, Stoke City and Werder Bremen.
“Trash talking is part of football.
Thirty or 40 years ago my opponent sometimes didn't say anything nice to me, and neither did I.
The most important thing is that Marko made it clear that he has nothing to do with politics.
The second thing is that it was clarified after the game.
The problem has been solved, it continues.
UEFA has not communicated on this matter.