NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo has lashed out against Takis Tsoukalas, a Greek television presenter who called his brother Thanasis a “monkey” while commenting on a EuroLeague game last Friday.
Tsoukalas, who is a hardcore Olympiacos fan referred to Thanasis who plays for Panathinaikos in such a manner, shortly after his scores helped beat Olympiakos 93-80.
“I have lost sleep in the last few days over the recent racist incident. If this can happen to Thanasis, who represents the Greek national team and Panathinaikos with pride and with a smile, I cannot imagine what other people of color face in Greece,” Giannis wrote on Twitter.
“I am sad and disappointed but we will not let the negative comments change this family and our love for the country we grew up in,” he said adding the flag emoji’s for Greece and Nigeria at the end of his message.
Meanwhile, Tsoukalas has been sued by two anti-racist organisations in Greece and has been reprimanded by the National Council for Radio and Television that will be re-evaluating his status.
Following the backlash, Tsoukalas issued an apologetic statement saying that “I characterised his behavior as an athlete who was twice punished by the referees with technical fouls. I know very well attempts are being made to turn this incident into a racist issue and I warn them that I will follow the lawful judicial route in response to this.”
In a message of support, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday posted an image of himself on Instagram which he also shared on Facebook wearing an Antetokounmpo shirt in the colours of the Greek national team.
“Respect and pride for the people that were born and raised here and that made Greece their own country. No tolerance for racism and hatred,” Tsipras said in a message accompanying his post, in which he tagged all four Antetokounmpo brothers – Thanasis, Giannis, Kostas and Alexandros.