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Russia volleyball coach says he meant no disrespect to S. Korea with slant-eye gesture

All Headlines 14:04 August 08, 2019

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- A coach for the Russian women's national volleyball team denied on Thursday he meant anything disrespectful to South Korea with his slant-eye gesture following a recent match.

Sergio Busato, an Italian-born assistant coach for Russia, is under fire for making what is widely considered a racist gesture following Russia's victory over South Korea at an Olympic qualification tournament in Russia on Sunday. The come-from-behind win sent Russia to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Korea Volleyball Association filed a complaint with the sport's international governing body, FIVB, over Busato's action, which was captured in a photo published on Russian website Sport 24.

This photo, captured from Russian website Sport 24, shows Sergio Busato, an assistant coach for the Russian national women's volleyball team, making a racist gesture after his team defeated South Korea at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Kaliningrad, Russia, on Aug. 4, 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In an interview with Sport 24, Busato denied he meant anything discriminatory with his gesture.

"My gesture did not mean anything other than the fact that I celebrated the Russian national team entering the Olympic Games in Japan," the coach said. "I did not know that my gesture was perceived as offensive and did not even immediately understand what the problem was. Two years ago, I celebrated going to Brazil (for the Olympics), and I danced samba."

Busato apologized to the Korean team and its fans, and added: "I respect the Korean team. I did not mean anything offensive, and this is only an interpretation of the gesture in the media. Italians work in (South Korea's) coaching staff. This is nothing more than misunderstanding."

The FIVB said it has received a complaint from South Korea and noted that Russia has taken steps to remove the photo from websites because it doesn't reflect the views and values of the country.

"It is important to emphasize that the FIVB does not approve of any culturally insensitive gestures, even if there was no intention of offending anyone," the FIVB added. "The FIVB is committed to promoting a better understanding and tolerance of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of volleyball."


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