Australia

TAB accused of ‘casual racism’ over deleted tweet about South Korean World Cup players’ names

Key Points
  • TAB has been accused of “casual racism” over a since-deleted tweet about South Korean World Cup players’ names.
  • A TAB spokesperson said the “inappropriate social media post” was removed as it didn’t meet company standards.
  • Some Twitter users with Asian heritage said rather than being offended by the tweet, they actaully found it funny.
Australian betting company TAB has been accused of “casual racism” over a since-deleted tweet about the names of South Korea’s FIFA World Cup team.
TAB’s Twitter account posted a meme that read “Feel for the commentator doing the South Korea game” above a picture of the South Korean squad, accompanied by the caption: “Kim passes to Kim who passes to Kim who passes to Kim who passes to Hwang who passes to Hwang who passes to Hwang… #QatarWorldCUP2022”.
Australian Financial Review journalist Mark Di Stefano posted a screenshot of the tweet on Thursday afternoon, saying: “Australia, undefeated at casual racism.”

“Weird that TAB’s banter social media lads didn’t have a crack at all the Martinez’s in the Argentinian side. Wonder why,” he wrote.

A TAB spokesperson told SBS News that it had removed the “inappropriate social media post” because it didn’t meet the company’s standards.

“The post was generated by junior staff and TAB has created additional checks and balances before future posts go live,” they said in a statement.

‘It’s not funny’

Shona Yang – founder of , a social media platform that celebrates Korean-Australian stories – said she was shocked to see the tweet from TAB.
“I’m outraged and disgusted at TAB’s tweet. It’s not funny. It’s ignorant and blatantly disrespectful. I was born and raised in Australia with a Korean surname and it’s not the first time I’ve heard an offensive ‘joke’ about my name,” she said.
“It was an incredible experience last night seeing Korean names and faces on an international screen, but to read a tweet like that from an Australian account is so disheartening.”
Ms Yang said the response from TAB showed “a lack of respect” for Koreans.

“These are players that are internationally renowned and deserve the same level of respect and acknowledgement that a commentator would give to the players of any other team … Son Heung Min is a player in a Premier League club and it’s frightening that even at a World Cup level, a national team can be reduced to a joke about a foreign-sounding surname,” she said.

“There is so much pressure for brands to be different and funny on social media but this isn’t just the slip of a tongue by a junior social media commentator, this is a lack of respect for Koreans, their culture, talent, skills and professionalism.”
While some Twitter users agreed with Mr Di Stefano’s assessment, others said it was simply a fact that many of the players shared the same surname.

“Reading surnames and pointing out that they have people with the same names isn’t racist,” Matthew Croucher wrote.

Some Twitter users pointed out that making a joke about players having the same surname, regardless of their race, is common in other sporting codes.

“I have seen this exact joke replicated many times in the Rugby world about the Welsh rugby team (Jones passes to Jones, kicks to Davies who passes to Davies and here comes Jones down the sideline!), I think it’s a wee bit of a stretch to call this racist,” Justin Raby wrote.

“Can someone explain this alleged racism to me? Would it also be racist if England had 5 Smiths and 3 Browns in their lineup and TAB made the same joke?,” Jacob Sheppard wrote.

“Would love a South Korean’s opinion on this instead of some white bloke’s.”

Several Twitter users with Asian heritage said they didn’t find TAB’s tweet to be offensive.
“You really need to be an Asian to understand what’s considered to be racism to us first Mark. Yes I have a surname just like theirs and don’t find it offensive at all,” Mick AT wrote.

“I am Korean born, this is not casual racism. I’m offended there were no Lee’s though,” David Lee wrote.

“As an Asian Australian, I actually found it funny, especially since I first saw this via the Facebook group ‘Subtle Asian Traits’,” another user tweeted.
Around half of all South Koreans’ surnames are .
that until 1909 when a new census registration law was passed requiring all Koreans to register a surname for identification purposes, most people in the lower classes didn’t have one.

When given the option of choosing a surname, many went with those associated with royalty or nobility, resulting in many people that chose Kim and Lee.

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