Danish TV apologises for segment comparing Morocco World Cup team to monkeys

Danish TV apologises for segment comparing Morocco World Cup team to monkeys
The TV 2 Danmark segment, which likened the close relationship between Moroccan football players and their families to that of monkeys, was branded racist by some viewers.
3 min read
18 December, 2022
The Morocco national team has been the target of racially-charged depictions by a number of European news outlets during the World Cup [Karim Jaafar/AFP via Getty]

Danish public broadcaster TV 2 Danmark has apologised for a segment on one of its shows in which the Morocco national team were compared to monkeys for embracing their families.

In the segment on the show 'NEWS & Co.', aired earlier this week on TV 2 NEWS, host Soren Lippert held up an image of a family of monkeys huddled together, which colleague Christian Høgh Andersen compared to Moroccan players embracing their mothers during World Cup match celebrations.

In a statement released Saturday, TV 2 said Andersen had made the comparison to link two segments of the show together.

"TV 2 NEWS host Christian Høgh Andersen draws a line between staying together as a family to the next topic about animals. Unintentionally, this becomes a comparison between Morocco's national football team and their families, and a picture of a monkey family that host Søren Lippert presents for the following topic."

"This can be perceived as a racist comment, and both TV 2 and Christian Høgh Andersen would like to give a profound apology for that."

The Danish broadcaster shared its apology on Twitter as a reply to a tweet by the group Documenting Oppression Against Muslims, who called out the segment earlier on Saturday.

The comments made on the show drew the ire of some viewers, who on social media slammed the comparison as "racist" and "disgusting".

"I am not shocked at all by the level of racism coming out of European media about Moroccan players. What surprised me is how they cannot even respect the sacred relationship players have with their mothers," Moroccan anthropologist Aomar Boum said in a tweet.

"I guess invoking monkeys is a way to stress the "African primitive"."

Moroccan players' celebrations with their families during their history-making run to the World Cup semi-finals won the hearts of football fans worldwide.

But their run as the first African team to make the last four of the tournament has put them on the receiving end of seemingly Islamophobic or racially charged comments.

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant published a cartoon depicting two stereotyped Moroccan men 'stealing' the World Cup trophy from FIFA President Gianni Infantino, before speeding off on a motorbike.

In a similar incident, German channel Welt prompted backlash for saying that some of the team’s players were posing with the 'Islamic State gesture', in reference to images online of players Zakaria Aboukhlal and Abdelhamid Sabiri, who were posing with raised index fingers following their quarter-final win over Portugal. 

In Islam, the index finger is usually raised in affirmation of the oneness of God.