Sky Sports have issued an apology after Graeme Souness labelled Erik Lamela’s actions during Tottenham Hotspur’s 6-1 victory over Manchester United “very Latin”, sparking fury from former Spurs great Osvaldo Ardiles.
Lamela was involved in an altercation with United striker Anthony Martial that resulted in the Frenchman received a straight red card, although the Spurs midfielder was lucky to escape a sending off himself. The Argentine lashed out at Martial as the pair jostled ahead of a corner, with his forearm thrust into the chest of Martial and forced up towards his neck. Martial took exception to this and slapped Lamela, who fell to the turf clutching his face.
Sky Sports commentator Gary Neville described the red card as “soft” at the time, and questioned why both players had not been sent off.
But Souness went a step further by criticising Lamela’s overreaction, and claimed that it was part of the Latin culture to play up to incidents in an effort to get opponents sent off.
“If Martial is going then Lamela has to go,” Souness said on Sky Sports. “He raises his hands, Martial lashes out, it’s like a tickle across your chops and he’s gone down.
“It is pathetic. It’s very Latin. If one goes, both have to go. It’s pathetic. Is this what the English game is about? We, the Brits, do it differently.
“I’ve played in a Latin country, I’ve worked in Latin countries, I know how they see the game.
“Lamela will sleep well tonight thinking he has done a great piece of work for his team. That is not us.”
The comments triggered a stern response from 68-year-old Argentine Ardilles, who made more than 200 appearances for Spurs during 10 years with the club, who accused Souness of stereotyping Latin culture with an offensive slur.
“I take exception to the ‘Latin’ comment of Graeme Souness about Erik Lamela,” Ardilles wrote on Twitter.
“Stereotyping all Latin football players in this way is grossly unfair.
“It would be the same as saying that this so-called tackle represents the ‘British’ way. Which it clearly doesn't.”
I take exception to the "Latin" comment of Graeme Souness about @ErikLamela Stereotyping all Latin football players in this way is grossly unfair. It would be the same as saying that this so called tackle represents the "british" way. Which is clearly doesn't. https://t.co/uu6rXhE67U
— osvaldo ardiles (@osvaldooardiles) October 4, 2020
Souness made the remark at half-time during Tottenham’s 6-1 victory, but Sky Sports presenter David Jones issued an apology on the broadcaster’s behalf following the day’s final match between Aston Villa and Liverpool more than four hours later.
“Now I have to say before we go, earlier in the show we were critical of Erik Lamela's part in Anthony Martial's sending off in the Manchester United/Spurs game,” Jones said.
“We'd like to apologise for any offence that was caused and the stereotyping of the Latin culture.”