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

 

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable