Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic is under fire after a controversial goal celebration during Sunday's match against North Macedonia. Arnautovic is accused of using racist language toward North Macedonian fans after scoring a goal, and North Macedonia has asked the UEFA to investigate the situation, according to The Guardian.
It's unclear what Arnautovic said during the celebration, but he felt the need to issue an apology on Instagram on Monday. In the note, Arnautovic said he is "not a racist."
"There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to APOLOGIZE — especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania.
"I would like to say one thing very clearly: I AM NOT A RACIST! I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."
The Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) also issued a statement Monday, which reportedly accuses Arnautovic of using "nationalistic" language, according to The Guardian. The FFM said Arnautovic directed his words at Ezgjan Alioski, a winger on North Macedonia.
Arnautovic, whose father is Serbian, allegedly directed racist language at Alioski, who is Albanian. There are tensions between Serbia and both Albania and North Macedonia due to the sovereignty of Kosovo. In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia.
It's not the first time the conflict has surfaced during a game. Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri — Swiiss internationals who have Kosovo Albanian ancestry — received fines in 2018 after displaying a nationalist symbol during a win over Serbia.
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