RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Uruguayan soccer player apologized after sparking outrage for wishing himself a happy birthday with a photo from Auschwitz.
Rodrigo Zalazar decorated a snap of himself outside the Nazi concentration camp with celebratory emojis and posted it to his Instagram. The insensitive image was taken on August 12, when Zalazar turned 20.
Zalazar, who currently plays for Polish club Korona Kielce, has deleted the post. In a video message posted to the team’s Instagram account with nearly 15,000 followers, he used poor English to read what was apparently a pre-written statement:
“It was not in my intention to insult concentration camp victims. I did not know where I exactly was standing when I was making this photo. I am ashamed of my act because now I know what happened behind this gate. I want to apologize to everyone who felt offended by my act.”
The picture showed him standing on the train tracks used to transport victims of the Holocaust into the Nazi camp in southern Poland. The museum that now operates on the site has in recent years had to repeatedly remind visitors not to take photos or selfies in the most sensitive areas, such as the tracks or the rooms in which people were murdered.
Rodrigo Zalazar was born in Spain but acquired Uruguayan nationality through his parents. The midfielder, who is the son of retired Uruguayan soccer player Jose Zalazar, has represented the South American nation as a member of its under-20 international team.
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