Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan has made an attempt to apologize to the Jewish community over comments he made last month, and in doing so sparked another racially-charged fracas.
Whelan gave a lengthy interview to the Jewish Telegraph in that began as an effort to explain and make amends for comments he made to defend his hiring of similarly-accused Malky Mackay as Wigan’s new manager. It ended, instead, with the 78-year-old using an insensitive term, “chingalings,” to describe the UK’s Chinese community.
In his attempted apology, Whelan, said: “When I was growing up we used to call the Chinese ‘chingalings’. We weren’t being disrespected [sic]. We used to say: ‘We’re going to eat in chingalings.’ The Chinese weren’t offended by that. That was the name everyone in Wigan called it [the first Chinese cafe in Wigan].”
The British Chinese Project, a voluntary organization that highlights the presence of the Chinese community in Britain, has since released a statement regarding Whelan’s comments, accusing the 1950s and 60s footballer of possessing “dangerous levels of ignorance.”
“Once again, Mr. Whelan, rather distressingly, believes he can speak on behalf of Chinese people. His comments are extremely unhelpful in our fight to end discrimination and racism against Chinese people in the UK. Once more, he is using a public platform to tell a wide audience what Chinese people find offensive.
“Contrary to what Mr Whelan may believe, the vast majority of our community deem the terms ‘chink’ and ‘chingaling’ highly offensive. For many in the Chinese community these words hold deep emotional resonance, as they are often used in conjunction with racial violence, harassment and hate crimes.
“Therefore, to say that ‘there is nothing wrong’ with using such terms or that Chinese people ‘aren’t offended’ by their use, demonstrates a dangerous level of ignorance.”
Whelan was charged by the FA last month for his first set of offensive remarks, when he said, “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”