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Celtic lodge complaint over Sky's "misleading" Alfredo Morelos interview

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

15:40 6 Feb 2020

Celtic have lodged a complaint with British broadcasting regulator OFCOM over a Sky Sports interview with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos. 

The 23-year old was reported to have said during an interview conducted in Spanish that he had experienced racism during his time in Scotland.

One claim made in the translation of the interview suggested Morelos had been subject to racist abuse during the December 29 Old Firm game at Parkhead.

But Sky were forced into apologising to both Celtic and Rangers after the Hoops questioned the accuracy of the translation.

A Sky statement read: "We have identified inaccuracies in the translation of Sky Sports News' interview with Alfredo Morelos.

"We apologise to both Celtic and Rangers football clubs as well as Alfredo Morelos for the issues caused by these errors.

"After numerous steps undertaken by Sky to verify the interview thoroughly, we can be clear that at no point did Morelos allege that any racial abuse was directed at him by Celtic supporters in the interview.

"We apologise to the supporters of Celtic Football Club for this serious error.

"We are reviewing our procedures for translated interviews to ensure this does not occur in future."

However, Celtic are unsatisfied with Sky's response to the error, saying, "It does not identify the source of the translation or why phrases, which bore no relationship to the words used by Mr. Morelos, were introduced into it."

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lowell shared the following communication with OFCOM:

Dear Sir/Madam

On behalf of Celtic Football Club, I wish to lodge an official complaint in respect of an interview with the footballer, Alfredo Morelos, which was broadcast on all Sky platforms on Monday 3 February.

Mr Morelos spoke in Spanish and sub-titles were provided. It is our contention that the presentation of this interview was grossly and irresponsibly misleading due to the wildly inaccurate and tendentious translation which was provided in the sub-titles.

The effect and, we believe, purpose of this misrepresentation was to broadcast offensive and incendiary allegations against Celtic Football Club and its supporters, by attempting to attribute these – quite unfairly – to Mr Morelos. It is difficult to think of a more irresponsible piece of “sporting journalism”.

Celtic Football Club has issued a statement on the subject which is attached for your convenience.  We understand that the interview is no longer available through Sky Television which is, in itself, recognition of its deficiencies. On the basis of the inaccurate translation, highly damaging and wholly inaccurate stories were briefed to the press.

I am therefore asking Ofcom to conduct an investigation in order to answer the following questions:

1     Who was responsible for the inaccurate translation?

2     What steps were taken by Sky Television to ascertain the accuracy, or otherwise, of the translation provided?

3     What part did Sky Television play in briefing the story, based on the inaccurate translation, to the wider media?

We believe this is a matter of substantial public interest for the following reasons:

1.   Issues of racism and sectarianism are far too important to be manipulated in this way by any broadcaster or third party.

2.   The use of mis-translation to convey false meaning is a dangerous form of “fake news” which must be condemned and sanctioned.

3.   Mr Morelos has been seriously misrepresented and is deserving of apology and explanation. 

I look forward to your early response.

Yours faithfully

Peter Lawwell
Chief Executive
Celtic plc

 

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