World soccer gossip circles are in overdrive following a shocking incident on the pitch between two rival forwards after Thursday night’s World Cup opening game between Australia and Ireland.
Video footage shows Irish striker Ruesha Littlejohn blatantly refusing to shake hands with Australian star Caitlin Foord just before kick-off in what is a highly unusual football snub.
Eyewitnesses say the tensions reached the point where Littlejohn appeared to try to get close to Foord while the teams were still on the field after the game, only to be physically held back by several of his teammates.
Rumors now abound as to what prompted the Irish striker’s strange behaviour, with fans speculating it could have something to do with Littlejohn’s recent split from Irish captain Katie McCabe.
Littlejohn and McCabe, one of Ireland’s soccer glamor couples, have split after just over seven years together, with McCabe confirming the split during an interview with the UK’s Players Tribune shortly before the World Cup.
Footage shows Ruesha Littlejohn completely ignoring Foord in the handshake procession before Ireland’s 1-0 defeat by the Matildas on Thursday night.
Cailtin Foord is pictured facing off against Littlejohn during the team’s opening match at the World Cup.
McCabe and Foord, who play for UK Premier League powerhouse Arsenal, are understood to be good friends and recently vacationed in Ibiza along with a large group of friends.
Foord also recently became single after splitting with Swiss midfielder and Arsenal teammate Lia Walti.
Daily Mail Australia does not infer that Foord had anything to do with the breakdown of Littlejohn and McCabe’s relationship.
Images of the ‘blank’ handshake have racked up thousands of views on TikTok, with comments focusing on Littlejohn blatantly skipping Foord’s outstretched hand.
‘Now it is clearly [sic] that there is some drama between Katie, Reusha and Caitlin’, wrote a Tik Tok user.
“Ruesha that’s too personal,” wrote another.
Contacted through her management, Foord declined to comment on the incident.
However, Matilda insiders have insisted that Foord and McCabe are just good partners and that their friendship played no role in McCabe’s breakup with Littlejohn.
Foord led the Matildas onto the field in the absence of injured captain Sam Kerr and was snubbed by Littlejohn soon after.
Ireland captain Katie McCabe recently confirmed her split from teammate Littlejohn
McCabe is seen shaking hands with injured Australian captain Sam Kerr after the defeat.
“Clearly there is still some tension coming from Littlejohn who seems to have spilled over a bit on Thursday night,” a source close to the team told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Caitlin and Katie are great friends.
‘They play together at Arsenal. They spend a lot of time together. But there is nothing more than that.
News of Littlejohn and McCabe’s split recently made headline news in Ireland with McCabe in an interview referring to Littlejohn in the past tense as ‘my partner at the time’ in a sure sign that they are no longer together.
Littlejohn and McCabe seen here in January 2023, several months before they broke up
Foord and McCabe are good friends and teammates at Arsenal, the British soccer powerhouse.
Foord (left) and McCabe are said to be part of a close-knit circle of friends in England.
Until recently, Foord was in a relationship with his Arsenal teammate and Swiss international Lia Walti (pictured)
The interview is believed to have been given just two days before the World Cup.
In the article, McCabe describes how Irish legend Emma Byrne took her under her wing when she signed for Arsenal in late 2015.
After just over a year with the North London side, then-Ireland manager Colin Bell called Katie to inform her that he would be naming the Arsenal star as captain.
“Then a little over a year later, in July 2017, things got even crazier,” McCabe said.
“I was on a trip to Coney Island, Northern Ireland, with Ruesha, my partner at the time, and her family. At some point I checked my phone and saw that I had a missed call from Colin Bell, the Ireland manager.
The couple began dating around 2016 and their relationship went public in 2019. Together, both McCabe and Littlejohn have spearheaded campaigns designed to help young people struggling with their sexuality.
Happier times: McCabe (left) and Littlejohn during their seven-year relationship
The couple is seen here after the FIFA Women’s World Cup playoff match in October 2022.