English Premiership

Liverpool's Reina in race row

2012-03-01 18:16
Pepe Reina (File)

London - Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina on Thursday faced accusations of racism over a television commercial in his native Spain but the insurance company which made the advert denied it was offensive.

The allegations come after Liverpool were widely criticised for their reaction to the eight-match ban handed to Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Reina came under fire from anti-racism campaigners Operation Black Vote (OBV) over the advertisement for the Spanish division of Groupama, showing the player in a jungle being greeted by a spear-carrying tribe and their chief.

With the goalkeeper's name translated as "queen" in Spanish, the chief appears to suggest a sexual relationship with him by saying "You queen, me king" to which Reina raises his eyebrows and sarcastically replies: "I feel safe, la la la."

OBV director Simon Woolley 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 okay to characterise black people this way?

"Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke?"

A spokesperson for the Spanish division of Groupama said it had only received one complaint over the commercial and denied it had been taken off air in response.

"We received complaints from just one association, which is based in England," the spokesperson said.

"We have not received any other similar comments from anywhere. We have received messages that liked the ad, including some asking for it to be dubbed into English.

"The Spanish division of Groupama does not consider that it has any type of offensive content.

"It is a humorous line that we have been developing for two campaigns, including with other goalkeepers such as (Iker) Casillas.

"There was no intention to hurt anyone's feelings.

"The advert is no longer on television but not because we pulled it but rather because the campaign was planned for February 2-29 and it has already ended."

Liverpool - who won their first trophy for six years when they lifted the League Cup on Sunday - were not immediately available for comment but the club was reported to be unaware of Reina's involvement in the commercial.

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