Miss Universe Australia Francesca Hung has responded to her involvement in a controversial video, labelled ‘racist’ by fans, which saw her discussing non-English speaking rivals at the prestigious modelling competition.
On Thursday, a livestream video surfaced of Francesca speaking about Miss Vietnam H’Hen Nie and Miss Cambodia Rern Sinat with two other competitors.
Francesca has now defended her comments, claiming they were ‘misconstrued’ in an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Saturday.
‘I’m so upset the that this situation has been misconstrued like this’: Miss Universe Australia Francesca Hung has defends ‘racist’ video after discussing non-English speaking competitors
‘I’m so upset the that this situation has been misconstrued like this,’ she begun.
Attempting to explain the comments made about Miss Cambodia in the video, Francesca said: ‘We were merely saying it must be even more difficult at times not to have a single other delegate able to speak [Cambodian language Khumer].’
She finished: ‘Which in fact, makes Nat (Miss Cambodia) an even stronger contender.’
‘We were merely saying it must be even more difficult at times not to have a single other delegate able to speak [Khumer],’ Francesca said of the incident
On Thursday, Francesca’s involvement in the video saw her speaking alongside Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers and Miss Columbia Valeria Morales in rehearsals in Bangkok.
The trio were accused of being ‘racist’ and ‘bigoted’ after appearing to make fun of fellow contenders from Cambodia and Vietnam for speaking poor English.
‘Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language,’ Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers said in the livestream.
Scandal: ‘Miss Cambodia is here and doesn’t speak any English and not a single other person speaks her language,’ Miss USA Sarah Rose Summers (pictured) said in the video
Miss Colombia, Valeria Morales, agreed with the claims.
‘Could you imagine? Like Francesca said, that would be so isolating and I said yes, and I mean, just confusing all the time,’ Miss USA continued.
Miss Australia added to the conversation, by nodding and saying: ‘It would be really hard’.
Forgiving: Francesca shared a snap of the five competitors wearing a sash after the video, adding a love heart underneath the photograph
The remarks continued in another part of the livestream when the contestants discussed Miss Vietnam’s limited English.
‘Miss Vietnam… she’s so cute, and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she goes (nods),’ Miss USA said.
Miss Australia laughed with Miss USA after the controversial comments.
Later, Francesca shared a pictured of herself with the other competitors on Instagram, adding a love heart under the snap.
Furious social media users called for the trio to be booted from the international beauty pageant
One Twitter user referred to the trio as Mean Girls amid the backlash (pictured)
Following the video, Francesca was defended by Pink Tank Events Troy Barbagallo, who runs the Miss Universe Australia Pageant.
He said Francesca was ‘far from a bully’.
‘She is publicly against (bullying), she grew up in Australia as half-Chinese, achieved great things and has since been using her new role as an advocate for acceptance of cultural diversity,’ Barbagallo told 9Honey.
‘Regarding the incident, we have spoken to the girls involved and MUO management. The bullying accusations are unfounded and almost bullying against the accused.’
USA’s Sarah Rose Summers also publicly apologised for the comments.
There are contestants competing from 94 countries this year and the 67th Miss Universe will be crowned on December 16.
Friends: Miss Cambodia (centre) hug Miss Australia (right) and Miss USA (left) after the scandal broke, showing the trio remain firm friends