Denmark’s broadcaster TV2 has apologised for a segment which it said made an “unintentional” comparison between Morocco’s footballers and a family of monkeys, in a clip that has now been reported by international media in the Middle East.
In a segment on the programme News & Co. about Morocco’s footballers celebrating with their mothers after World Cup matches, TV2 presenters appeared to compare them with a photograph of monkeys which was the subject of the following segment.
While one presenter, Søren Lippert, holds a photo of a family of monkeys, co-presenter Christian Høgh Andersen says “this is in extension of Morocco gathering their families in Qatar”.
“We have an animal family gathered here, maybe to stay warm,” he continues as the camera pans onto the photo.
Asked by another voice out of picture why he’s making a connection between the two, Andersen says “because they’re sticking together, and that’s also what they’re doing with the family reunification in Morocco”. He uses the Danish legal term for family reunification, fammiliesammenføring.
Both Lippert and Andersen responded after the clip was spread on social media with an English translation added.
Lippert, who was holding the picture but didn’t make the remarks, said that “however unintentional, the comparison made in the program is not ok”.
Im the guy holding the picture (in a segment on awarding wildlife photos), but not making the inappropriate remark. However unintentional, the comparison made in the program is not ok.
— Søren Lippert (@Sorenlippert) December 17, 2022
In a longer statement posted on Facebook, Andersen said he wanted to give an “unreserved apology” for the comments.
“In a poor attempt at humour I drew a line between sticking together as a family when the next topic about animals was presented in the studio,” he wrote.
“Unintentionally it became a comparison between Morocco’s national football team and the family of monkeys which my co-host Søren Lippert was holding a picture of and which we were using for the next segment,” he wrote.
“I am very sorry and I want to give an unreserved apology for this,” he wrote.
The broadcaster published an apology in Danish and English on its website, saying that the section “can be perceived as a racist comment, and both TV2 and Christian Høgh Andersen would like to give a profound apology for that.”
“We deeply apologize that a host on TV2 News made a comment that is both wrong and offensive. Although it was not the intention of the host, it is a remark that both our host and TV2 dissociate from. This was a clear mistake, we apologize for it, and we will take it into account in our work at TV2 News,” the broadcaster’s editor-in-chief Anne Mette Svane said in the statement.
“TV2 has apologized to the viewers who have contacted TV2, and also believes it is necessary to dissociate from the inappropriate comment publicly,” the statement adds.
The broadcaster has also apologised on social media in response to international media reporting on the clip, including by Qatar-based media al-Jazeera.
We’re very sorry for the offensive comment, we deeply regret and apologise – please see link https://t.co/xU6dwVAr5S
— TV 2 Danmark (@tv2danmark) December 18, 2022
The incident was not the only time the broadcaster came under pressure for inappropriate comments during the World Cup.
In November, commentator Thomas Kristensen was criticised for comparing Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku with King Kong during live commentary. Kristensen defended the remark by saying he meant to compare Lukaku with “a monster who everyone is scared of, and nothing else”.