South Korean international Sung-Yeung explains monkey celebration
Celtic player Ki Sung-Yeung claims a ‘monkey’ celebration he performed while on international duty with South Korea was to highlight racist abuse he has suffered at Scottish football grounds.
The midfielder, who moved to Glasgow from FC Seoul in January 2010, was accused of a racist celebration after his goal against Japan in an Asian Cup semi-final match on Tuesday (25 January).
Ki appeared to impersonate a monkey after opening the scoring from the penalty spot, which has reportedly been interpreted as a derogatory reference to Japanese people.
But Ki, who was allegedly subjected to racist abuse of a different nature in November at a match between St Johnstone and Celtic, has said his actions were not an affont to the Japanese and were instead aimed at alleged abuse suffered in Scotland.
“That performance was not directed at Japanese people,” Ki told journalists in Qatar. “When I play at Celtic our opponents’ fans call me a monkey and the celebration was toward people who make such racist remarks.”
A spokesman for the Korea Football Association later confirmed: “The treatment he got from the Scottish league, especially in the away games, the people who made noises like the sound of the monkeys in Scotland when he played away games, that is something he wanted to highlight.
“Even though they call him a monkey as an Asian, he wanted to show how strong they are in Asia. That was the main intention.”
In light of Ki’s claims, the Japanese Football Association have accepted their Korean counterparts’ explanation and have declared they will not make a complaint to the Asian Football Confederation or FIFA.
Similarly, the AFC have confirmed they will not take action against the 22-year-old. “We are aware of the goal celebration but we don’t think it impacts on any country,” said AFC tournament director Tokuaki Suzuki.
“The issue, according to my understanding, has already been resolved after communication between the Japan Football Association and the Korea Football Association. AFC will not take any legal action in this matter.”
Ki may have been referring to incidents during Celtic’s 3-0 Clydesdale Bank Premier League win over St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on October 30.
Following the match, St Johnstone issued a statement on their official website to say they would be investigating claims that Celtic players were subjected to “racist noises” during the match.
At the time Ki’s fellow South Korea international Cha Du-ri said: “When Ki had the ball, two supporters jumped up and started making monkey noises in unison.
“I played for eight years in Germany and I have never seen anything like that. The incident is shameful and I feel angry about it. I told the coach this when we had dinner after the game.”