Thursday 18 January 2018

'I feel really scared' - Teenage footballer who mocked Harry Arter over stillborn daughter receiving death threats

Harry Arter and Alfie Barker
Harry Arter and Alfie Barker

Aaron Gallagher

The English amateur footballer who sent an abusive tweet directed at Ireland international Harry Arter has revealed how both he and his family received death threats in the aftermath of the incident.

Alfie Barker, who’s tweet following Bournemouth's 3-3 draw with Arsenal read: “big hype just for a disappointment like the nine months leading up to your child's birth”, in relation to Arter and his partner’s daughter being stillborn in December, has since had his contract with Hitchin Town terminated.

Speaking about his regret surrounding the tweet, Barker said he had received multiple death threats this week.

“I've had every single kind of threat,” he said speaking to Justin Dealey of BBC Three Countries. “People putting my phone number on Twitter. I'm getting phone calls 24/7. [They're saying they'll] break my legs.

“I feel really scared, I don't know what's going to happen to me if I go out by himself. I'm 18-years-old, I made a mistake but everyone deserves a second chance.

“I regret it massively...I've lost my day job as well. I'm saying sorry because I want to say sorry and I mean it, not because I've been caught out.”

The 18-year-old initially claimed his Twitter account had been hacked, before later retracking the statement, going on to mention how he had mixed ADHD medicine with alcohol on the night the tweet was sent.

“I just wasn't thinking. I was at home watching the game, having a few beers — just weren't thinking about it [the medication].

“I think I should be allowed play football again. I'm 18 years old and everybody makes mistakes.”

“He needs to learn some responsibility and be a man,” his father said during the interview.

“I wanted to break his back,” he added when asked what his initial reaction to the incident was.

“I was livid. Lads have banter. There’s banter and then there’s despicable, personal digs at someone who clearly doesn’t deserve it — and that’s where he overstepped the mark.”

Southern Football League Premier Division side Hitchin Town released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming it would be terminating Barker’s contract, with the player also revealing in the interview how he had since lost his day-job as a carpenter.

"The club adopts a responsible approach to social media and would expect any player connected to Hitchin Town to do likewise,” the statement read.

"In the light of the player's irresponsible and anti-social behaviour, we are terminating Alfie Barker's registration and relationship with the club with immediate effect.

"We would reiterate that Hitchin Town, as a community club with established links with various segments of the public, has been a long-time user of social media channels and expects all club stakeholders to use them appropriately."

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