Now, women Argentine Olympic footballers photographed making 'slit-eyed' gesture

London, August 19 : Four members of Argentina's Olympic women's football team have added fuel to the controversy over making 'slit-eyed' gesture, just days after the Spanish men's and women's basketball teams were criticised for making similar poses.

The picture showing players Maria Potassa, Eva Gonzalez, Fabiana Vallejos and Andrea Ojeda smiling broadly as they pull back the skin on the side of their eyes, in a crude impersonation of Chinese people, has emerged on the internet.

However, there is no suggestion that the footballers meant to cause offence by their gestures.

The Argentine sports newspaper Ole first published the photograph on August 5, with a preview of the team's first match of the tournament against Canada.

Argentina's women footballers had a torrid time at the Beijing Games, losing all their three games, including a 2-0 defeat to China in their final match.

About a week ago, adverts featuring the Spanish men's and women's basketball teams in similar poses sparked international criticism.

Earlier this year, the members of Spain's Olympic women's tennis team pulled the same face in anticipation of an upcoming match against China, a snap of which emerged last Thursday.

With the publication of such pictures, it has started to emerge how standards about the acceptability of racial stereotyping vary widely between countries, even in the West.

It was mostly from the English-speaking bloggers that much of the criticism of the Spanish teams came, prompting some complaints from Spain about alleged Anglo-Saxon hostility to Madrid's 2016 Olympic bid.

The Spanish players have expressed shock that others may find them offensive, saying that it was "absurd" to consider the gesture racist.

"I'm sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought that it was offensive," the Telegraph quoted Pau Gasol, one of the Spanish basketballers, as writing on his blog.

Story first published: Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 13:29 [IST]
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