A British TV star been forced to issue a red-faced apology after he was accused of sending a racist World Cup tweet.
The Apprentice host, Lord Sugar, faced an online backlash after a tweet which compared Senegal’s World Cup squad to ‘guys from the beach in Marbella’.
The 71-year-old referred to the players as ‘multi-tasking resourceful chaps’, as he shared an image of the team alongside a photo of sunglasses and handbags.
Having earlier defended the tweet as ‘funny’ and taken issue with Twitter criticism, Lord Sugar made a U-turn less than 90 minutes later and issued a grovelling apology.
He tweeted: ‘I misjudged me earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.’
The BBC themselves was also forced to respond after irate Twitter users demanded Lord Sugar face action.
Lord Sugar has acknowledged this was a seriously misjudged tweet, and he’s in no doubt about our view on this. It’s right he’s apologised unreservedly.
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) June 20, 2018
Piara Powar, executive director of anti-racism group Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe), branded the “stereotyping of a whole race” as “disgraceful and damaging”.
“Alan Sugar has deliberately and with racist intent sought to demean a World Cup football team,” Powar said.
I misjudged me earlier tweet. It was in no way intended to cause offence, and clearly my attempt at humour has backfired. I have deleted the tweet and am very sorry.
— Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar) June 20, 2018
Lord Sugar later deleted the tweet saying “my attempt at humour has backfired”, but not before he had been bombarded with a visceral response on Twitter.
One user responded: “Pernicious generalisations based on appearance = racism. Fool.”
Another argued: “It is blatant racism I don’t actually understand how he had the gall to post it.’
Although Lord Sugar initially described the divisive tweet as a ‘bloody joke’, he has since deleted it.
He wrote: “Just been reading the reaction to my funny tweet about the guy on the beach in Marbella.
“Seems it has been interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people . Frankly I can’t see that I think it’s funny. But I will pull it down if you insist.”
He also furiously responded to BBC journalist Babita Sharma, after she described it as ‘vile,’ questioning why she retweeted it if that was the case.
It isn’t the first time that Lord Sugar’s Twitter activities have landed him in hot water.
Earlier this year, Sugar faced criticism after posting a tweet showing Jeremy Corbyn in a car next to Hitler in the wake of an anti-semitism scandal that has engulfed the Labour Party.
His latest controversy comes a day after Senegal’s World Cup victory over Poland, with the Group H side securing a 2-1 victory in their first clash of the competition.
Nick Reilly writes for Yahoo News UK