Granit Xhaka has admitted he “reached boiling point” after being targeted by Arsenal supporters during the draw against Crystal Palace and blamed his angry response on abuse he had received, including physical threats and taunts that wished his daughter would get cancer.
The Switzerland midfielder gestured and swore at the crowd after he was jeered as he was substituted in the 2-2 draw against Palace last Sunday with his manager, Unai Emery, later admitting the club had suggested the captain should apologise to the fans. However, four days after the incident that was not exactly forthcoming from Xhaka, who instead issued a statement on Instagram which attempted to explain his reaction.
“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 wrote.
“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 get 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 to 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.”
Xhaka was rested for the Carabao Cup tie against Liverpool on Wednesday but is expected to be available for selection for the home game against Wolves on Saturday.
The goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez is adamant that the players are still backing their captain. Asked whether they had spoken to the Xhaka, the Spanish goalkeeper said: “We always do, all of us. He’s a lovely guy, he’s a bit devastated because he has got a good family, a good heart and he loves the club. When someone goes through that, we have to support him and we are together.”