In an interview with The Guardian that was published Thursday, Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan claimed "Jewish people chase money" and that it isn't offensive to use the word "chink" to refer to a Chinese person.
Whelan made the comments while defending the hiring of Malky Mackay as new Wigan manager.
Mackay was embroiled in a racism controversy earlier this year when it was revealed that the ex-Cardiff City boss sent numerous offensive text messages and emails to ex-Cardiff head of recruitment Iain Moody while the pair were at the club, a revelation that cost Mackay a job at Crystal Palace. The messages, which Mackay later referred to as "banter," were racist, sexist and homophobic in nature.
In response to alleged anti-Semitic messages Mackay sent, Whelan defended the comments. "The Jews don't like losing money," he told The Guardian. "Nobody likes losing money."
More from The Guardian:
Asked whether he did not think what Mackay said was offensive, because the claim that Jews “love money” has been used as a negative stereotype, Whelan said: “Do you think Jewish people chase money a little bit more than we do? I think they are very shrewd people.” Asked if he himself believed that, Whelan, the multimillionaire former owner of JJB Sports, said yes: “I think Jewish people do chase money more than everybody else. I don’t think that’s offensive at all.”
Whelan said he did not think there was “a lot wrong” with anything Mackay said, and there was no malice or disrespect in the statement about Smith. He added: “It’s telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.”
The owner's comments drew a rebuke from former FA and Premier League official Simon Johnson, who is chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council.
“Unfortunately Mr. Mackay and now Mr. Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people,” Johnson told The Guardian. “Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype.”
Whelan also defended Mackay's use of the word "chink," a racial slur directed at Chinese people. He claimed the word is not offensive and said that he had used the word many times.
"If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying," Whelan said to The Guardian. "There is nothing bad about doing that."
On Thursday, Premier Range -- one of Wigan's shirt sponsors -- backed out of its contract with the club due to its hiring of Mackay as manager.
Wigan has 16 points through 17 English Championship matches. The club is in 22nd place and is currently in the relegation zone.
- Stanley Kay