The worlds of Wesley Sneijder and Leeds United may be not be intertwined; one still plays in the Champions League whilst the other now finds themselves in the Championship. However, a major blunder by the former has led to a social media storm.
Sneijder, a star of Dutch football and former Real Madrid ‘galactico’, took to Twitter over the Easter weekend to endorse Galatasaray’s branded knife set.
The midfielder clearly wasn't aware of the fact that back in 2000, an incident between supporters of the two clubs against the backdrop of a Champions League semi-final led to two Leeds United fans being stabbed to death in Turkey. One Gala 'fan' was later jailed for 15 years in relation to the murders.
To make matters worse the Yorkshire club had already planned to commemorate the two fans, Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, with a minute’s silence before their league encounter with Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road on Saturday.
30-year-Sneijder old endorsed the ‘Wesley Sneijder knife kit’ on Twitter; a kit which contains seven different knives. However, Whites fans rightly picked up on his insensitive posting and questioned the wisdom and merit of such a decision by the central midfielder.
Sneijder later realised his error and apologised to one particular fan, by posting: “Very sorry. I didn’t know this and deleted our promotion for the merchandise kitchen item. #Respect.”
A spokesman for a Leeds United supporters group also condemned the thoughtlessness of Sneijder, saying: “It would be disappointing to see this on any day but especially this weekend when we have a number of tributes planned out of respect for the fans who went to watch their team and never came home.”
As well as a minutes silence for the two fans, a wreath was laid on the Elland Road pitch before Neil Redfearn’s men were beaten soundly as their season meanders towards a mid-table finish.
A sombre day for the crowd was reflected on the pitch as second-half goals from Tom Cairney, the in-demand Jordan Rhodes and former Liverpool player Jay Spearing were enough to ease the visitors seven points clear of their hosts in the table.
With just six Championship fixtures left, it looks almost certain that the Whites will spend another year in English football’s second tier as they continue to struggle in their quest to restore former glories.
It has been 11 years since the club were relegated from the top division, but matters could have been worse and they appeared on the brink of another relegation for some time this season until on-pitch performances picked up after Christmas. The resurgence hasn't quite pushed the club towards the playoffs.
Incidents on the pitch aren't always as significant as off it however, and Leeds fans will never forget the two who never came home from Turkey. As of Saturday, Sneijder won't either.
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