Viewers hit out at ‘unacceptable’ Michael Schumacher joke on live TV
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A Formula 1 pundit has been heavily criticised for a tone deaf joke he made about driver Michael Schumacher in the wake of his poor health.
Schumacher is a seven-time world racing champion and competed for the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Benetton.
But in 2013, the now 54-year-old suffered a horrific skiing accident that left Schumacher with severe brain injuries.
The ordeal took place in December and he was placed in a medically induced coma until June the following year.
He hasn't made any public appearances since the terrifying ordeal and almost ten years on, Schumacher is still suffering with the side effects of the accident - something Formula 1 pundit Antonio Lobato thought was appropriate to make light about.
A post-race discussion following the Japanese Grand Prix over the weekend on Spanish TV involved Lobato and other pundits laugh at Schumacher's expense.
"Let Adrian Newey (Red Bull engineer) be shaking because Antonio Lobato is coming," said one pundit, to which Lobato replied: "Let Michael be shaking! Well... not Michael, he cannot shake."
The comment has sparked outrage online, with many calling for Lobato to issue an apology to Schumacher.
One person wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: "An apology would be the minimum, a sign of decency."
BÜYÜK SKANDAL😡— Tutkumuz F1 (@F1tutkumuz) September 25, 2023
💥DAZN İspanya’da Michael Schumacher’ın fiziksel durumuyla dalga geçilmiş!
🎙️Toni: “Adrian Newey titresin çünkü Antonio Lobato geliyor.”
🎙️Antonio: “Bırakın Michael titresin ama Michael değil çünkü o titreyemez.”
"You don't disrespect ANYONE that way, especially when thousands of people are watching you. Journalism in Spain has a very bright present and future with people like this," they further fumed.
Another person added: "Using someone’s medical condition as the punchline of a joke is unacceptable and abhorrent.
“Michael is beloved and respected in this sport and (Lobato) doesn’t deserve the platform he is given."
In light of the backlash, Lobato has now issued an apology, describing his comments as 'pure clumsiness'.
He captioned the video shared to X yesterday (25 September): "I think it is necessary to explain and admit that I was wrong. Please listen to my video. It's a little long, but I think it's necessary."
He went on to say in a five minute long video: "I made a mistake without any bad intentions.
"It was simply a mistake of pure clumsiness, of pure inability to express myself correctly, maybe because of too many hours up, jetlag in Madrid, or whatever - which is not an excuse for those of you who didn’t see it.
“What happened is that I went too far and made an expression that is not good, it is not accurate, it is not fine.
“I didn’t mean to make a joke. I didn’t mean to make fun of Michael Schumacher, no."
The pundit went on to insist that anyone who knows him 'knows perfectly well that I would never make a joke about something like that'.