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Marko Arnautovic has insisted that he is not racist following a clash with Leeds star Ezgjan Alioski during the Euro 2020 meeting between Austria and North Macedonia.
During the Group C clash, the former Stoke and West Ham forward could been seen in a war of words with his opponent, who has Albanian origins but has always represented his country of birth.
There has been plenty of tension between neighbouring Albania and Serbia in the past, with many of the North Macedonia squad having links to the former.
Serbian newspaper Informer alleged that Arnautovic blasted: “I f****d your Albanian mother.”
He said in response: “I am not a racist and will never be a racist.
“There was a battle of words in the emotion, from both sides. It doesn’t matter who it was about. (It) had nothing to do with politics at all.
“My friends, who have grown into my family, are from all over the world.
“To all those people who felt addressed: I’m sorry.”
The match finished in a 3-1 victory for Austria over the European Championship debutants, with Arnautovic striking late off the bench.
Having looked furious after his goal, captain David Alaba stepped in to restrain him with reports suggesting that his anger was also directed at Egzon Bejtulai.
Austria’s sporting director Peter Schottel added: “Trash talk is part of football.
“The most important thing is that Marko has made it clear he has nothing to do with politics.
“The second thing is that it was cleared up after the game. The topic has been resolved.”
Next up for Austria is the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Thursday evening, with North Macedonia playing Ukraine who also lost their opener.
- Euro 2020
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