Senegal footballers have rejected Lord Sugar’s apology to the team over his ‘racist’ tweet.
The Apprentice host posted an edited picture showing players with rows of sunglasses and handbags and told his 5.47million Twitter followers: ‘I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.’
The photo sparked an immediate reaction with accusations of racism and today the Senegalese delegation in Russia called his message: ‘ignorant and hurtful’.
Ndongo Ndiaye, sports advisor to the country’s president Macky Sal, told The Times: ‘Everyone here is talking about this tweet, it has made headlines in Senegal too.
‘I think it is very ignorant from someone in his position. Of course, there must be freedom of speech but this was wrong and it is hurtful to the players and people from Senegal. If I was his boss, if I was responsible for him, then I would fire him.’
Despite racism fears over the black and ethnic minority players going to the World Cup, Senegalese players, officials and fans had not experienced any racism, Mr Ndiaye said.
‘It has been fantastic, we have been made very welcome’.
Despite the upset the team won their first game with a 2-1 victory over Poland. They face Japan in their next game on Sunday.
The team’s manager, Aliou Cisse, is the only black head coach of the 32 teams and he was also the captain when Senegal last won a World Cup game, beating France in 2002.
Lord Sugar initially defended his message, insisting it was intended as a joke and that he still thought it was ‘funny’ with no reason to apologise.
But less than 90 minutes later, his response had changed dramatically. Lord Sugar tweeted a grovelling apology and deleted the original message plus his attempts to defend it.
Embarrassingly, the row came on the same day the BBC launched a landmark report on diversity and equality. The corporation faced calls to investigate and for Lord Sugar to be axed from The Apprentice. Former England player Stan Collymore tweeted BBC Sport to say: ‘The word you’re looking for is racist… It’s racism. Say it.’
He added: ‘Imagine a black peer saying something anti-Semitic about the Israeli football team at a World Cup. ‘He’d have already been sacked, possibly arrested, and would be the front page of every paper tomorrow.’