By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka apologised on Thursday for his anger after being taken off against Crystal Palace last Sunday but revealed he reached ‘boiling point’ over abuse of his wife and daughter from the crowd and on social media.
The Switzerland midfielder’s substitution during the 2-2 Premier League draw at the Emirates drew sarcastic cheers from the home fans.
Xhaka was incensed by the reaction, cupping his hand to his ear before taking off his shirt and storming down the tunnel amid boos from the home supporters.
“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,” he said in a statement https://www.instagram.com/p/B4S0q45HTAL on Instagram.
“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.”
Xhaka said he got carried away and had reacted in a manner 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.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery left Xhaka out of Arsenal’s squad for Wednesday’s League Cup fourth round match at Liverpool, which the Gunners lost on penalties after a 5-5 draw.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)