Liverpool try to steer clear of Reina's racist TV advert

Spanish goalkeeper's jungle joke commercial is dropped after complaints about racial stereotyping

Liverpool last night indicated that they feel Pepe Reina's appearance in a Spanish television advertisement which has been pulled because it is racially offensive is a matter for him to deal with – a stance they hope will prevent the club from becoming embroiled in another race row.

The timing of the advert's removal is unfortunate for the club, which has been working hard to repair the damage done by Luis Suarez's unwillingness to show contrition for the offence he cased by calling Manchester United's Patrice Evra "negro" at Anfield in October. The club was criticised for their conduct on that issue by a group of anti-racism campaigners. But Liverpool feel the advert has nothing to do with them.

The club was aware of the Reina advertisement last night; it is possible that the Spaniard will be encouraged to apologise for any offence caused, allowing Anfield to put in the past an episode which seems to have caused more offence to an English audience than to any in Spain. Reina is believed to have signed for Groupama, a multi-national insurance firm, in November – and so the advert must have been filmed after Suarez was charged – a piece of timing that will not impress Liverpool. The advert was taken off Spanish television after a complaint from Operation Black Vote, a British-based campaign group, about its portrayal of racial and sexual stereotypes. In the advert Reina, whose name means "Queen" in Spanish, is shown in a jungle scene coming face to face with a group of black men wearing tribal costume. The "chief" then appears to be attracted to Reina.

Simon Woolley, director of OBV, 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 is OK to characterise black people this way? Does he think his black team-mates will laugh at his joke? One can only be surprised at Reina, who is acutely aware of how his football club has been embroiled in an unnecessary and protracted race row."

Groupama agreed to withdraw the advert from Spanish TV, but in a statement denied it was offensive. The statement said: "Groupama Seguros does not consider that this advert contains either offensive nor any discriminatory content."

In Britain racism has returned to the top of the agenda in football this season for the first time in several years. This latest episode is an embarrassment to Liverpool, coming so soon after Suarez's ban and his controversial return at Old Trafford, where he refused to shake Evra's hand, an action which ended in Suarez and manager Kenny Dalglish issuing public apologies.

Reina, who joined Liverpool in 2005 from Villarreal, played in Liverpool's Carling Cup win on Sunday before travelling to Malaga for Spain's friendly with Venezuela last night. He is due back in Liverpool today to prepare for Saturday's game against Arsenal at Anfield.

In 2007 a law was introduced in Spain designed to target racism in sport. A number of clubs have since been fined for racist chanting among their supporters. In 2004 the then Spain manager, Luis Aragones, was caught on film referring to Thierry Henry as a "black shit". The following year he was fined £2,000, around a day's wages. The Spanish FA only took action after pressure from government. In 2008 Lewis Hamilton was racially abused by spectators during a testing weekend in Barcelona.

Pete Jenson: It is Alf Garnett humour, and Spanish still think it's funny

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea