Serie A side Napoli have been a hot topic recently due to their activity in the transfer market.
On the one hand, the Italians have been touted for a sensational move for ex-Juventus man Cristiano Ronaldo with the Portuguese international keen to move to a club that can offer him Champions League football. On the other, they lost their star defender Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea after the Blues agreed a £33m fee with Napoli.
However, Luciano Spalletti’s side seems to have quickly filled the void left by the Senegalese international as the club announced the signing of Fenerbahce centre-back Kim Min-Jae.
After playing his early football in the Korean and Chinese leagues, the South Korean international ventured out into Europe last year by moving to the Turkish side Fenerbahce. The 25-year-old made over 30 appearances for the club last season and guided them to a second-place finish in the league, before switching to play in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Possessing great strength and speed, both top qualities for a centre-back, it was meant to be the announcement of a smart transfer from Napoli on Thursday after the club paid a fee of €18.05 million.
Instead, the club have managed to botch the reveal of their new defender and has upset football fans by delivering a disappointing announcement video for the player.
It seems like Napoli’s media team were hell-bent on focusing on his South Korean roots and hence, tailored his announcement clip with filters and music obtained from the popular Korean Netflix series, Squid Game.
The short clip that was uploaded on the club’s official TikTok account featured Kim sporting the new Napoli home kit while his eyes were blinking in red to resemble the animatronic doll from the ‘red-light-green-light’ game from the show. The accompanying music is also from the same game featuring the doll that went viral back when the show was released last year.
What has incensed supporters here is that Napoli has not treated the signing like they would have handled a European player’s announcement. Given Kim’s Asian roots, the immediate correlation with Squid Game appears to be forced, out of bad taste and even borderline racist.
Furthermore, it also appears that the club referred to the centre-back as a samurai during his presentation on social media channels. The title of a samurai emerges from an ancient Japanese tradition which is not applicable to Kim who is Korean.
Following the immense backlash from supporters online for the apparent racist actions from the club, Napoli had to take down the announcement video from TikTok.
In many ways, differential attitudes towards non-European players from European clubs are not an isolated incident.
Alongside Napoli, Crystal Palace were also presenting a new signing on Thursday in American international Chris Richards. Moreover, in a similar fashion as the Italian club, Palace too chose to focus on Richards’ nationality and tailored his announcement video to resemble the opening intro to the popular American series Ted Lasso.
Thanks to football fans on social media, both clubs have received flak for the unnecessary emphasis on non-European nationalities.
In the wake of having had to delete Kim’s announcement video, Napoli’s creative team would certainly be ruing their missed chance to present their new Koulibaly.