Swiss player Michel Morganella
was expelled from the Olympics on Monday for tweeting a message
that the Swiss team said "gravely insulted and violated" the
dignity of South Korea after his team's 2-1 defeat a day
"As a member of the Swiss Olympic mission he gravely
discriminated, insulted and violated the dignity of the South
Korean football team and the South Korean people," Swiss team
chief Gian Gilli told reporters.
The 23-year-old is the second athlete to be expelled by
their own team over a racist Twitter comment at the first Games
where social media are an integral part of the athletes' daily
Greek triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou was thrown out of
her nation's team last week, two days before the Games started
for a racist comment regarding African immigrants in Greece.
In his message, with some syllables jumbled, for which he
was expelled, Morganella said on Monday morning: "I punch you,
South Koreans, go burn..." The rest of the message was
considered sufficiently offensive by the Swiss team for
Morganella to be sent home.
Gilli, who only read out a statement in German and did not
take any questions, said Morganella's comments were in direct
violation of the International Olympic Committee's and the Swiss
team's ethics codes.
He said Morganella, who has already left London, had been
"provoked" on Twitter but his response was unacceptable.
"As a consequence of this behaviour Michel Morganella,
having conferred with the Swiss Football Association, is
immediately stripped of his Olympic accreditation and all future
participation in the Olympic tournament.
"The Swiss team will now focus entirely on the next match. I
wish the team inner peace and serenity," Gilli said.
The player himself said he accepted the sanction and
"I made a huge mistake after the disappointing result. I
wish to apologise to the people in South Korea and their team,
but also to the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general.
I obviously accept the consequences for my actions."
The Swiss, third in Group B, play Mexico in their next game
on August 1 which is also Switzerland's national day.
Gilli said he had also - unsuccessfully - tried to contact
the Korean team.
"We would like to apologise, especially to the South Korea
National Olympic Committee and the South Korea Football
Association for the behavior of the player," he said.
"We hope that he will draw the necessary lessons for his
still young football career," he said of Morganella.
The London Games are the first Olympics where social media
are so widespread. The IOC has urged athletes to tweet but to
always respect the Games ethics code which all teams and
athletes have signed.
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