Marko Arnautovic: Austria forward apologises for celebration against North Macedonia but denies using racist language

Arnautovic, who came on as a second-half substitute and struck late in Sunday's comfortable victory, appeared furious as he celebrated his goal before captain David Alaba stepped in to restrain him; UEFA appoint ethics and disciplinary inspector to conduct investigation

Austria forward Marko Arnautovic has apologised for his goal celebration in Sunday's win over North Macedonia (AP)
Image: Austria forward Marko Arnautovic has apologised for his goal celebration in Sunday's win over North Macedonia

Austria forward Marko Arnautovic has apologised for his angry reaction towards North Macedonia supporters after scoring in a 3-1 victory over the European Championship debutants, but he denied using racist language against them.

Arnautovic, who came on as a second-half substitute and struck late in Sunday's comfortable victory, appeared furious as he celebrated his goal before captain David Alaba stepped in to restrict him.

Some media reports said that the 32-year-old's anger was also directed at North Macedonian players Egzon Bejtulai and Gjanni Alioski, both of whom have Albanian roots.

"There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise - especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania," Arnautovic, who has Serbian background, said on Instagram.

Austria captain David Alaba restrains Marko Arnautovic as the latter celebrates a goal against North Macedonia (AP)
Image: Austria captain David Alaba restrained Arnautovic as he celebrated

"I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."

Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, while there is historic tension between Serbia and North Macedonia.

UEFA on Tuesday said it had appointed an ethics and disciplinary inspector to conduct an investigation.

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A statement read: "In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident involving the player Marko Arnautović that occurred during the 2020 European Championship group-stage match between the national teams of Austria and North Macedonia on June 13, 2021.

"Further information on this matter will be made available in due course."

Austria take on the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Thursday, while North Macedonia next play Ukraine.

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