No one’s excusing Granit Xhaka for swearing and gesticulating at the home fans who booed him off the pitch this weekend, but plenty are going to have sympathy for the Arsenal captain after he released an emotional statement on Thursday.
Xhaka, 27, admits to having been deeply hurt by reprehensible comments from “fans” on social media, and said it all boiled over on the pitch. The Swiss star had been dealing with disgusting comments regarding both him and his family, and admitted that they had affected him greatly. He is asking fans to join him in going back to a “place of mutual respect.”
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When someone wishes death and disease on your wife and baby daughter, well, what’s wrong with people?
Those comments are far from excusable, and imitate the worst qualities of humans. Yes, there is a pretty vile culture right now where folks believe they’re entitled to call names and berate people of all sorts — and not just on social media — but the fact that Arsenal green lit this statement from Xhaka shows that the club recognizes how bad things have gotten between players and fans.
Look at even the tamer comments on this Instagram photo of Xhaka and his new daughter, saying things like, “I hope you’re a better father than a football player” and begging him to take paternity leave.
The other thing about Xhaka is that whether he’s being played out of position, utilized incorrectly, or simply not playing well, the guy clearly busts his bones for Arsenal. There’s a reason his teammates elected him captain, and he cares deeply for the club. How that ever gets to death and cancer threats is beyond the pale and against the very nature of what it means to care about the club.
Either way, we’re unabashedly in his corner. Making millions of pounds/dollars/euros may allow fans to judge players critically, but it doesn’t turn them into inanimate targets. At least it shouldn’t.