A Greek commercial TV channel has been banned for a 24-hour period because of on-air racism.
A sports commentator on Channel “E” (also known as Open TV) made the offensive comments against a coloured player, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, a tall basketball star who a child of Nigerian immigrants to Greece. Antetokounmpo plays for the Panathinaikos basketball team.
The abusive comments were made by a late-night – and controversial – TV commentator who described Antetokounmpo as a “monkey”. The commentator Takis Tsoukalas, who hosts a pro-Olympiacos late-night sports show, and which followed Panathinaikos beating arch-rival Olympiacos in a Euroleague game last week.
The ban is for 24-hours and will take place on January 10th. The decision was made by The Greek National Council for Radio and TV. “The E Channel” also must pay a fine of €30,000 for broadcasting racist statements and for having low-quality programming.” The channel is owned by a Greek-Russian businessman, Ivan Savvidis, said to be one of Russia’s richest individuals.
Thanasis’s younger brother Giannis, even taller, plays for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, said he was outraged by the comments made by Tsoukalas and which have dominated the sports pages and front pages of Greek newspapers for the past week. Both brothers play for the Greek national basketball team.
Giannis Antetokounmpo defended his brother and slammed Tsoukalas in a tweet. After apologising to his brother for his response to Tsoukalas that would bring his brother to the media forefront, he wrote that, “If this can happen to Thanasis who represents the Greek national team and Panathinaikos with pride and a smile, I cannot imagine what other people of colour face in Greece. My brothers and I are proud to be Greek-Nigerian and if anyone doesn’t like it, that’s their problem.”