Premiership giant deletes post congratulating ex-Russian player

The English football club Arsenal deleted a tweet addressed to Andrey Arshavin after an outcry from pro-Ukrainian activists

English football club Arsenal has backpedaled on its happy birthday greetings to former player Andrey Arshavin, who is a Russian national. The original message quickly caught flak from pro-Ukrainian Twitter users. 

The tweet posted by the team on Monday featured a video clip of the Russian star at the height of his career at Arsenal, and read: “Wishing you a great day, Andrey.” 

The former winger, who turned 42, played for the club from 2009 to 2012, chalking up a total of 144 appearances on the field.  

However, pro-Ukrainian users slammed Arsenal, insisting that it was inappropriate to congratulate the Russian player. Critics pointed out that Arshavin is a regular guest on Russian state TV.  

One user commented that last year, the former player had said he would serve in Russia’s army against Ukraine “if conscripted.” 

Ukrainian football account @ZoryaLondonsk, in turn, remarked that it was “another week… and another club throwing itself into a social media scandal involving ‘good fortune’ towards a Russian.” 

Arsenal eventually caved in and deleted the tweet amid the backlash.   

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When asked last October by Russia’s Sport24 media outlet about what he would do if he was called up as part of the partial mobilization in the country, Arshavin said he “would go to the recruitment office.”  

“I know that some have left, fled – I certainly won’t flee,” the footballer added.  

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