A Mexican television host sullied his country’s joy at progressing to the next round of the World Cup with a racist gesture towards the nation that helped it get there.
Mexico advanced to the round of 16 in the tournament on Wednesday despite an uninspired 3-0 drubbing by Sweden because South Korea beat reigning champions Germany in a shock upset.
“Chef James” Tehhan made the slant-eye gesture on Telemundo’s “Un Nuevo Dia” as he and his co-hosts celebrated, drawing condemnation on social media from viewers who caught it.
“I made a mistake and made an inappropriate and insensitive gesture towards the Asian community. It was a lack of sensitivity on my part. I admit that I did something wrong and wanted to apologize to anyone who was offended by it,” he wrote on Facebook.
Global soccer body FIFA has launched a widespread “say no to racism” campaign, though this tournament has also seen former Argentina star make the same racist gesture towards Asian fans, before later flipping the double bird to unseen adversaries as his team beat Nigeria.
Mexican fans from the Sierra Madre to the Ural Mountains, where the country’s team played in Yekaterinburg, Russia, were generally positive in their appreciation of South Korea saving them from a World Cup exit.
Fans in Russia shouted “Korea, brother, you are Mexican” and a McDonald’s in central Yekaterinburg filled with Mexican fans erupted into prolonged shouts of “Ko-re-a” when a man from Seoul wearing a South Korea t-shirt walked in Wednesday night.
Back in Mexico City, where a goal celebration previously produced seismic activity, fans brought the party to the South Korean Embassy, where the consul general was lifted up onto the shoulders of the crowd.