Father of young Leeds fan speaks out after players apologised for video ‘blanking’ kids
The father of a young Leeds supporter has responded to viral images on social media showing players ignoring fans.
Online footage showed several Leeds stars walking out of their hotels ahead of their Premier League game against Bournemouth on Sunday, which they eventually lost 4-1.
Players in the clip trudged out with their heads down, often wearing headphones, and appeared to blank would-be supporters hoping to meet their heroes – sparking accusations of ‘arrogance’ and criticism from ex-players.
The Whites apologized to fans on Monday, admitting there was “no excuse” for their actions, to which pundit Gary Neville responded by saying no one fell for their “sanitized, vanilla PR gibberish.”
But the father of a young fan has now maintained that the footage was misleading – adding that several players greeted his son and that the “negative press” was unfair.
Leeds players were filmed ignoring fans who had gathered at the hotel to say hello
Despite supporters waving and calling players’ names, no one responded – but the father of a young fan (bottom left) has insisted the images are misleading and stars greeted his son
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: ‘We live in Southampton, but we heard that Dylan would have the chance to see his heroes in Bournemouth. He had a fantastic day.
Luke Ayling punched him with his fist, Javi Gracia came and tickled his chin and chatted with him, Jack Harrison laughed with him, Adam Forshaw came down the stairs with his hand out to give him a high five and Brenden Aaronson signed.
Max Wober turned around and said hi, Willy Gnonto said hi. He buzzed. He has three signatures, we had a great day and there you have it.
“This morning Caleb, his older brother, saw this post (on social media) and I was stunned. The video only shows the players who didn’t say hello. We know very well that they are under pressure, they are trying to stay in the Premier League and we are devastated because we don’t want to be involved in negative press.
The clip, which was posted to Twitter, showed members of the Leeds first team walking in silence to the entrance of the hotel as a group of fans tried to get their attention.
Most of the Leeds team listened to music and avoided eye contact as they headed for the door. The young boy waved to the players to get their attention, but no one looked in his direction and his view was later blocked by a member of the Leeds security team.
A statement entitled ‘A Message From the Players’ was posted on the club’s website: ‘As Leeds United’s first team, we wanted to reach out to fans about yesterday’s game and subsequent social media posts.
‘Firstly, the execution was not good enough. There is no other way to look at it and the only way to react is on the pitch. Leeds fans travel the country en masse and earn more than that.
The father said stars like Willy Gnonto (center), Max Wober (right) and manager Javi Gracia personally said hello, gave his son a high five and made sure the boy had ‘a fantastic day’
Leeds lost the game against Bournemouth 4–1 to keep them one point above the relegation zone
“Words cannot express how sorry we are that the youngster in the video wearing the Leeds shirt is not getting more love from the team.
“On match day we do an activation walk, before and after we stop for photos and autographs to ensure interaction with the fans, but also to leave for matches on time.
However, there is no excuse for not acknowledging fans and if the parents of the fan wearing the Leeds kit in the video could identify themselves to us we would be grateful.
“We don’t believe this fight is over and we will continue until the last ball is kicked this season. Thanks again for your support.’
The images of players ignoring fans drew widespread criticism online. Ex-Leeds star Paddy Kenny called his former side ’embarrassing’ and insisted they should be ‘shamed of themselves’.
Kenny, who played 81 games for Leeds, condemned the players’ disrespect for their fans after the incident, calling the incident ’embarrassing’ before adding: ‘[I] I can’t believe what I’ve seen with this and Arsenal lately, it’s a joke and they should all be ashamed.’
Simon Jordan added: “Players need to do better. I think they forget where they came from,” while Piers Morgan called the players “selfish arrogant p****s.”
Leeds didn’t fare much better on the pitch as they were hammered 4-1 by the Cherries, leaving them just one point above the relegation zone.
The Gunners have also recently been criticized on social media for appearing to ignore a fan
Paddy Kenny, who played 81 games for Leeds, has criticized his former side’s behaviour
He called their treatment of fans ‘shameful’ and said they ‘should be ashamed’
As for the hotel incident, it comes just two weeks after Arsenal players were also heavily criticized for their lack of involvement with one of the club’s mascots.
In a clip posted to the club’s social media channels, the Arsenal players were seen signing a shirt for the young supporter as they entered the dressing room.
The clip immediately went viral on Twitter as thousands of people couldn’t understand why none of the players seemed to want to talk to the mascot or even make eye contact.
The Gunners were accused of being “entitled, overpaid and rude,” but the girl’s father insisted the footage was just a “tiny window” into her day.
Mikel Arteta also had to defend his players when asked about the matter at a press conference later in the week. Since then, a number of clubs, including Man United, have mocked the Gunners on social media for their tweet.