Under-fire Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka has apologised to supporters after telling them to ‘f*** off’ in the club’s clash against Crystal Palace.
But the Swiss midfielder also revealed that he had been sent vile messages following the foul-mouthed rant on Sunday, with one even targeting his wife. Another comment wished Xhaka’s daughter would ‘get cancer’.
The 27-year-old appealed to fans to ‘move forward positively together’ in the statement published by the club.
Xhaka had been hauled off in the draw with Roy Hodgson’s side at the Emirates, and promptly stole the headlines after directing foul language towards home fans after being jeered off the field. He had cupped his ear while heading towards the touchline, and tore his shirt off in frustration before snubbing Unai Emery’s handshake and storming down the tunnel.
Following the incident, the Arsenal boss admitted that the club’s skipper had been wrong to react to the frosty reception, and supporters have since appealed for Xhaka to be stripped of the armband.
The London side have offered the star counselling in an attempt to help him shake off the backlash, but Emery has also refused to confirm whether a new captain would be appointed.
And Xhaka revealed that he had angrily confronted supporters after reaching ‘boiling point’ following ‘repeated abuse’. Fellow midfielder Lucas Torreira had been snapped on the verge of tears whilst warming up following the unsightly flashpoint.
The full statement reads: ‘After taking some time to reflect on what happened on Sunday afternoon, I would like to give you an explanation rather than just a quick response. ‘The scenes that took place around my substitution have moved me deeply. I love this club and always give 100% on and off the pitch.
‘My feeling of not being understood by fans, and repeated abusive comments at matches and in social media over the last weeks and months have hurt me deeply. People have said things like “We will break your legs”, “Kill your wife” and “Wish that your daughter gets cancer”. That has stirred me up and I reached boiling point when I felt the rejection in the stadium on Sunday.
‘In this situation, I let myself be carried away and reacted in a way that disrespected the group of fans that support our club, our team and myself with positive energy. That has not been my intention and I’m sorry if that’s what people thought.
‘My wish is that we get back to a place of mutual respect, remembering why we fell in love with this game in the first place. Let’s move forward positively together.’