Former Tottenham owner apologizes for racist tweet about Senegal's World Cup team

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Former Tottenham owner and current TV personality and politician Alan Sugar has apologized for a tweet that compared Senegal World Cup players to people who sell sunglasses and purses on a beach in southern Spain.

Alan Sugar at an event in 2010. (Getty)
Alan Sugar at an event in 2010. (Getty)

Sugar, 71, was harshly criticized for the tweet, which has since been deleted. It included a picture of Senegal players alongside sunglasses and handbags, with the caption: “I recognize some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps”.

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(Screenshot: @Lord_Sugar on Twitter)
(Screenshot: @Lord_Sugar on Twitter)

Sugar at first pushed back on the criticism: “Why not it is meant to be funny … for god sake,” he wrote on Twitter. “I cant see what I have to apologise for … you are OTT … its a bloody joke.”

Then he offered a non-apology, which has also since been deleted, in which he twice referred to his own tweet as “funny”:

“Just been reading the reaction to my funny tweet about the guy on the beach in Marbella. Seems it has been interpreted in the wrong way as offensive by a few people. Frankly I can’t see that, I think it’s funny. But I will pull it down if you insist.”

Only after continued backlash to those tweets as well as the original one did he backtrack, take them down, and apologize:

The BBC, for whom Sugar hosts a TV show called “The Apprentice,” also attempted to quell the uproar with an apology on Sugar’s behalf:

Ironically, that tweet was sandwiched in between two about a recent report on ethnic diversity at the BBC, with quotes from BBC’s head of diversity and inclusion.

In addition to hosting the BBC show, Sugar is known for owning and chairing English Premier League club Tottenham from 1991-2001. He is also an entrepreneur, and a member of the UK’s House of Lords – hence the “Lord” in front of his name on Twitter and elsewhere.

Dawn Butler, a fellow British politician, criticized Sugar for the tweet:

Sugar has a long history of provocative and insensitive comments and tweets. This wasn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last.

On a mostly unrelated note, Senegal won its opening game at the World Cup 2-1 over Poland, and plays Japan on Sunday.

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Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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