A Brazilian tennis player has apologized and been fined for making what appeared to be an offensive gesture during a Davis Cup match in Japan.
Guilherme Clezar was caught on camera mockingly stretching his eyes on Friday after he had successfully challenged a line judge’s call during the crucial third set of his clash with Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, per multiple reports.
See the racist move in this video.
After tennis fans around the world expressed their outrage, the 24-year-old player issued an apology on Saturday. He said he’d never intended to be “aggressive, racist” or “prejudiced” toward Asian people.
Clezar claimed to have “an excellent relationship” with other players in a statement shared on the Brazilian Tennis Confederation’s Facebook page.
“Even though I didn’t mean any prejudice, I recognize the gesture doesn’t ring true with the attitudes of respect, enthusiasm, solidarity, emotion and many other things that sport means to us,” he added, according to the BBC.
Clezar is currently ranked 244th in the world. He went on to lose the match in straight sets of 6-2, 7-5, 7-6.
The International Tennis Federation investigated the incident and decided to fine Clezar $1,500 for “unsportsmanlike conduct,” the BBC reports.
“The incident was reported after the match and the TV footage was then reviewed by the tie referee,” federation officials said in a statement. “Clezar issued a written apology. The ITF condemns all forms of offensive behavior.”