Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka has hit out at Arsenal fans, describing their reaction towards him as “incomprehensible.”
Naija News reports that Xhaka threw his arms up in the air and cupped his ears after his substitution was greeted by boos during their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
He was also seen mouthing “f*** off” at the Arsenal fans and removed his shirt before storming down the tunnel.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery had called on his captain to issue an apology to the fans, with many pundits urging the club to strip him of his captaincy.
The Switzerland captain, however, released a statement on Thursday explaining why he reacted that way to Arsenal fans.
Xhaka claimed that the life of his wife and child was threatened by some fans of Arsenal.
However, ahead of the Gunners Europa League match against Vitoria SC, Unai Emery revealed that Xhaka was no longer part of the Gunners’ leadership group.
He added that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been confirmed as the new skipper.
Xhaka has not played for Arsenal since that game, while he is now being linked with a move away from the club in the January transfer window.
Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, the 27-year-old admits it was ‘painful’ to be booed off by Arsenal fans.
Xhaka said: “When my shirt number lit up on the board of the fourth official and then broke jealous jubilation of their own fans, that hit me very much and stirred up. It was very painful and frustrating.
“For me, this reaction is still incomprehensible, especially in this vehemence and how extremely hostile I was here.
“Since I can remember, the fans are an integral part of my sport.
“And I have a lot of respect from the beginning for the commitment and hardships fans take to help us players.
“Justifiable criticism of them makes you grow as an athlete.
“And the power and energy that they put into the game makes every athlete love football even more. I feel like part of a big football family.
“But when you get scolded by this very footballing family in times when you are already being attacked massively, it hurts a lot.
“By that, I do not mean that I can not stand criticism. If I and the team do not play well, we have to listen to it and work on it.
“But if you offend and insult your own captain, bring restlessness and bad mood into the team you actually support.
“That makes no sense to me and weakens the cohesion.”