Fans detained after ‘mocking’ death with airplane gestures during game
Two Southampton fans have been detained by police after apparently mocking the death of Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala, during a match between the two teams on Saturday.
Footage posted on social media after the game appeared to show the men making airplane gestures, in Cardiff’s first match played since Sala’s body was found.
The footballer, who had signed for Cardiff City but had not yet played a game for his new club, died after his plane crashed over the English Channel last month. Pilot David Ibbotson is also presumed dead, though his body has not yet been recovered.
Southampton confirmed that two men were spoken to by police in a statement, promising to ban the supporters involved.
“The club will continue to work with Hampshire Police to identify any individuals deemed to have made indecent gestures towards Cardiff supporters,” the club added, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Such behaviour has no place in our game and will not be tolerated at St Mary’s. The club will be taking an extremely firm stance against anyone involved and intends to ban those supporters identified.”
Sala’s body was found after a private search commissioned by his family, financed by a crowdfunding campaign which attracted support from several leading soccer players.
Before the game, a minute’s silence was observed by players and fans of both teams at Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium. Cardiff ultimately won the game 2-1.
But the incident nonetheless puts the ugly behavior of pockets of English soccer supporters back in the spotlight, during a season that has at times been marred by offensive chants and violence from fans.
Arrests were made after clashes between fans at another game on Saturday, between Watford and Everton, police confirmed.
In December, Chelsea said some of its supporters “shamed the club” by singing anti-Semitic songs during a game in Hungary in December, with more of their fans were filmed apparently hurling racist abuse at Manchester City player Raheem Sterling the same month.