Arsenal have sparked controversy by sharing footage of their first-team squad appearing to ignore an adoring young mascot over the weekend.
Ahead of their 2-2 draw at West Ham on Sunday, the Gunners posted a video on social media of Mikel Arteta and his players signing a shirt for 8-year-old Olivia, on his way to the dressing room at the London Stadium.
However, fans were quick to point out the abrupt way they did so, accusing them of not acknowledging the young girl as she looked up in admiration.
One of the players in question was Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard, chosen by Olivia as her favorite player in West Ham’s fixtures.
While it’s unclear if she enjoyed further interactions with the players, several users took to Twitter to blast Gunners stars over the clip, including broadcaster and lifelong Gunners fan Piers Morgan.
Arsenal players appear to be ignoring a young mascot in footage the club shared over the weekend
The Gunners have been heavily criticized on social media for appearing to ignore the girl
Arsenal fan Piers Morgan was one of many who took to Twitter to slam the club over the video
Morgan’s quote tweeted the video, writing, “Come on guys, at least one of you say hello to her?!!”
Fans also took aim at Arsenal, with one message: “Not even a quick ‘hello’… if this is the kind of interaction between player and fan you think is social media worthy then I have to dread how the players are feeling act like the cameras aren’t rolling.
Another said: ‘It would help if they acknowledge the poor girl!! clowns.’
‘Are you really joking? No interaction with her. Fair, overpaid and rude,’ concluded a third.
A fourth said, “She would have much better memories if one of them made eye contact or made the effort to acknowledge the girl. I’m thinking rude and entitled!’
Another posted: ‘No player acknowledged her.. interactions make memories, not signatures. Classless arsenal, they really thought posting this would be a good public relations stunt.”
A fifth said, “Embarrassing… Think Ben White was the only one who made some kind of gesture to her. Before people moan and say “what do you expect them to do” a simple “Hello” would suffice’.
“No player to greet her?” asked another.
Arsenal endorsed the “Making memories with our mascot” video, but one of them replied: “Memories of your heroes’ oppression.”
Television presenter Nick Knowles was also critical of Arsenal, calling for the club to make amends for not dealing with the mascot.
Fans also criticized Arsenal stars for their abrupt interaction with the young supporter
Television presenter Nick Knowles called on the club to invite her back for another match
Knowles wrote: ‘I suggest @Arsenal you bring her and her family back and give your players another try at being decent human beings – admittedly they should be coached into it but it might be something that sticks with some of them if it is. pointed out’.
Mail sports has approached Arsenal for comment.
talkSPORT host and Arsenal supporter Laura Woods also took part in Tuesday morning’s debate, admitting it is “symptomatic” of modern football, despite explaining how the mascot would have enjoyed a full matchday experience.
“It doesn’t take much to acknowledge someone and give them a little smile,” Woods continued talkSPORT’s breakfast show. “It’s quite symptomatic that I think about football now on video or about football players now.
“Which is a bit disappointing, and just to add a little more context to it, I actually messaged the club because the club released it and I think they released it thinking ‘they all stopped and signed the shirt , this is great, look what they do”. But maybe that in itself is the problem, that somewhere along the line there’s been a gap between what you need to do for those kinds of mascots.
“The club did say it’s part of a matchday experience, so that’s not the only interaction they had with the players. She was a mascot, she also went on the field with them, they would have been on the field during the warm-up, and I think with these things with football players sometimes there are a lot of things that we don’t see.
“That doesn’t excuse that video because I watched it a few times and after watching it I was like, ‘Oh wait, but did it get cut after that?’ But I went back and looked at it and they didn’t, they kept going.
“So I think maybe it’s a good lesson, just the reaction of the normal fans, what they see and what we see. Maybe it’s just a lesson I understand it’s a pre-match routine and maybe you’re in your little bubble and I understand that, but how long does it take to make eye contact or something?’
Later that afternoon, Arsenal suffered a major blow to their Premier League title hopes as they blew a two-goal lead for the second consecutive week.
After also being held to a 2-2 draw at Liverpool after an initial 2-0 lead, Arteta’s men were again pinned by West Ham despite scoring twice in the first 10 minutes.
Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard fired them into an early two-goal lead at the London Stadium, only for Said Benrahma’s penalty to put the hosts back into play.
Arsenal suffered a huge setback as they blew a two-goal lead against West Ham
And when Bukayo Saka himself shot a penalty wide in the second half, Jarrod Bowen went down at the other end three minutes later to score what turned out to be the all-important equalizer.
As a result, Arsenal now lead Manchester City by just four points with a lead of just four points after playing a game more than their title rivals, and with a delightful showdown between the two clubs coming to the Etihad next week.
“We made a big mistake by stopping playing with the same goal to score the third and fourth and just thinking we could play around them and it just seemed too easy,” said Arteta after their latest setback.
“We didn’t understand what the game required at the moment. We need that ruthless mentality in those moments to kill a team. If the game is for killing, you have to do it. Not today.’