'Gay Argentinians' tweet lands British ambassador in the soup
Jon Benjamin posted reference to lewd football song labelling Argentines 'gays' and 'cowards'
BRITAIN'S ambassador to Chile has been forced to apologise after accidentally sending a public tweet that suggested Argentines acted like "cowards" in the 1982 Falklands War.
Jon Benjamin, who has been a diplomat for 26 years, meant to send a private message to a friend on Twitter but made it public to his 9,000 followers by mistake, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The message alluded to a chant popularised by Chilean football fans, which roughly translates as: "Argentines, gays, they took the Falklands off you because you are cowards."
Referring to Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier between Chile and Argentina, Benjamin tweeted: "What were the islands that they took, from whom and for what reason? Maybe I'll get to know at the National Stadium this Tuesday? I've already got my ticket."
Angry Argentines took to the web shortly afterwards to criticise the 49-year-old diplomat, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a "West Ham fan, Londoner at heart and Jewish atheist."
One called him a "clown" and another vowed to beat him up if he ever met him. National sports daily Ole labelled him rude and a Buenos Aires TV station accused him of disrespecting the nation.
Several Chileans also attacked him, including the country's ex-telecommunications minister Pablo Bello, who tweeted: "Your comments are in bad taste, ambassador. You don't need to appeal to Chilean nationalist chauvinism to fulfil your diplomatic mission. Doing so reflects badly on you."
Another, referring to the Falklands by its Argentinian name, tweeted: "Football folklore is beautiful until people bring in issues stained with blood. This is an insult to all the Argentines who lost their lives in the Malvinas."
Benjamin removed the tweet in the wake of the furore and apologised. "I'm sorry I offended with a private message that I published by mistake," he said. "I feel great affection for my Argentine friends and respect for their national side."
The offending tweet came just two weeks after Benjamin, who took the ambassador role in 2009, said that the Falkland Islands had "some crucial questions to decide about its future".