A volleyball player who was slammed for making a racist gesture at a recent game has insisted she meant ‘no disrespect’.
Sanja Djurdjevic, from Serbia, was playing against Thailand in the FIVB Volleyball Women’s National League, held in Italy, when she stretched both her eyelids after scoring a point.
The gesture caused a storm on Twitter, with many people calling her out.
One person commented: “Serbia, your actions are not cute, you are a national team athlete, why are you reacting to Asian people like this?”
Another added: “Disrespect is exactly what she meant.”
“Kick Sanja Djurdjevic out. No to racism! There are no jokes when it comes to racism,” a third fumed.
Since the backlash, Djurdjevic has released a statement on Instagram.
It reads: “I am aware of my mistake and I immediately after the match apologised to the whole Thailand team.
“I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘now, we will start playing defence like them’. I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone.”
She then added that the gesture had been ‘unfortunate’ and ‘not so smart’.
The Thailand team has also received an apology from the Volleyball Federation of Serbia.
In a statement posted on Facebook, a representative said: “We apologise sincerely to the Thailand team, people of Thailand and to all of you affected by this.”
However, it was then stressed that critics should not ‘blow this out of proportion,’ and called it a ‘misunderstanding’.
This isn’t the first time that the Serbian volleyball team has been at the center of a racism storm. Back in 2018, at the FIVB Women’s World Championship in Japan, the whole women’s group pulled the gesture for a photo.
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