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CEO Marchionne apologizes for ethnic slur

May 21, 2013 at 2:54 PM

DETROIT, May 21 (UPI) -- A group representing Italian-Americans said an apology from the head of Chrysler and Fiat for use of a derogatory term was "heartfelt."

"We felt it was a very heartfelt apology," said Sebastian D'Elia, spokesman for the Italian-American One Voice Coalition, which has been pressing the Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne for months for an apology for his use of the word "wop" in an interview at the North American International Auto Show in January.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday Marchionne's letter to the group said the term was "unacceptable."

At a roundtable discussion in front of reporters at the auto show, Marchionne said an engine designed by Fiat engineers would be better for a new Alfa Romeo car, which was slated for the U.S. market.

"With all due respect to my American friends, it needs to be a wop engine," Marchionne said at the time.

A Chrysler spokeswoman said the timing of Marchionne's apology had nothing to do with a Sons of Italy Foundation event honoring Marchionne that is scheduled for Friday.

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