Austria's Marko Arnautovic sorry for angry celebration: 'I am not a racist'

Austria forward Marko Arnautovic on Monday apologised for his angry reaction towards North Macedonia supporters after scoring in their 3-1 victory over the European Championship debutants, but he denied using racist language against them.

Arnautovic, who came on as a second-half substitute and struck late in Sunday's comfortable victory, appeared furious as he celebrated his goal before captain David Alaba stepped in to restrict him.

- Euro 2020 on ESPN: Latest news, features, video
- Euro 2020 on ESPN: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)
- Euro 2020 bracket and fixture schedule

"There were some heated words yesterday in the emotions of the game for which I would like to apologise -- especially to my friends from North Macedonia and Albania," Arnautovic, who has Serbian background, said on Instagram.

"I would like to say one thing very clearly: I am not a racist. I have friends in almost every country and I stand for diversity. Everyone who knows me is aware of that."

Arnautovic was pictured in a heated exchange after the goal with North Macedonian player Ezgjan Alioski, who has Albanian roots.

UEFA said on Tuesday it had appointed a disciplinary inspector to investigate the incident.

A statement read: "In accordance with the Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, an Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct an investigation regarding the incident involving the player Marko Arnautovic that occurred during the 2020 European Championship group-stage match between the national teams of Austria and North Macedonia on 13 June 2021."

Serbia does not recognise the independence of its former province Kosovo, while there is historic tension between Serbia and North Macedonia.

"The FFM strongly condemns the nationalistic outburst of Austrian player Marko Arnautovic, after a goal scored in yesterday's match, addressed to Ezgjan Alioski," North Macedonia's football federation said on Facebook on Monday.

"At the same time, we inform you that we have submitted an official letter to UEFA demanding the harshest punishment for Arnautovic."

Austria take on the Netherlands at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Thursday, while North Macedonia next play Ukraine.