South Korean netizens have expressed sympathy for Switzerland soccer player Michel Morganella, after he was sent home from the Olympics for racially abusing South Korea’s players on Twitter.
Morganella had directed an offensive jibe at the players after Switzerland’s 2-1 defeat to the Asian side on Sunday.
“Michel Morganella has discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korean football team, as well as the South Korean people,” Switzerland Olympic team chef de mission Gian Gilli said on Monday. “While the committee felt that Michel had been provoked on his Twitter account and that he has publicly apologized, the Swiss Olympic Committee and Swiss Football Association condemn Morganella’s actions to the fullest.”
In a post on Twitter that was later deleted, Morganella wrote: “I am going to batter the Koreans, burn them all ... bunch of ‘trisos.’”
Trisos is a French slang word for people born with Down’s syndrome.
However, many South Korean Internet users said the player had been sorely provoked by comments on social media.
South Korean fans had found Morganella’s Facebook page and posted thousands of strong criticisms, both in English and Korean, about the way he played in Sunday’s match. The comments were later deleted.
“He played unfairly during the competition, but it’s too much to swear at him, even on his Facebook page,” said an user identified as Jung Chang-hoon on South Korean portal Nate.com.
His comment received 748 “likes” and 226 “dislikes.”
Another user, Bae Sung-hwan, said: “We already won [the game] so we just had to ignore him, but we just had to visit his Facebook page, talk about his parents. Even I would be mad and it was unnecessary to ruin the young player’s Olympics.”
A user identified as Cho A-ra said: “We were rude to him on the Internet first and he reacted to it, but saying that he is a racist, I think it’s gone too far.”
However, others comments respected the decision made by the Swiss committee and said Morganella deserved to be sent home.