Monday 22 January 2018

'Messages like that, I can just ignore' - Harry Arter opens up on vile Twitter abuse

Bournemouth's Harry Arter was taunted on Twitter after the death of his daughter
Bournemouth's Harry Arter was taunted on Twitter after the death of his daughter
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland midfielder Harry Arter insists he has forgiven the non-league footballer who taunted him on Twitter about the tragic death of his baby daughter.

Alfie Barker was named, shamed and banned by the Football Association from playing football for seven months after he posted messages that generated a wave of support for Arter last year, yet the humble Bournemouth star has insisted he has moved on from the incident.

After and his partner Rachel suffered the horror of a stillborn birth in December 2015, with the memory of their tragedy brought back into sharp focus after the couple welcomed their baby Raine into the world last Friday.

Now the midfielder has opened up on an incident that was just a small part of what has been a difficult year for his family.

“Messages like that, hand on heart, I can just ignore,” said Arter, as he spoke about Barker’s messages for the first time.

“Honestly, people might think I am saying it because it sounds like the right thing to say. I honestly hope that boy gets help and people have forgiven him because I have.

“I feel he is a young boy that made a mistake, clearly needs a little more guidance in his life and hopefully he is getting that now. And if he is really sorry like he said, then hopefully he won’t make that mistake again.

“I do not feel like I would want to meet him if I was being brutally honest, no. I hope once he has served his ban I would like to feel all is forgotten and I would not want it to hinder his life or his career.”

Arter will play his first match as a father at West Bromwich Albion this weekend and he admitted the experiences he has been through with his partner Rachel have allowed him to gain some perspective on the sport.

“I think you understand what is important in life and what is not,” he added. “There are so many things now that before I would find frustrating or disappointing.

“The way I am with Raine, I am not too sure I would be so hands-on if it was not for Renee. For any family that loses somebody – regardless of if it’s a baby – it definitely does change you for the positive.

"When negatives happen, you look at your life a lot differently to try and change it for the positive and I am really thankful for Renee for that.

“I went through a phase towards the end of the season, I was finding football very tough to be bothered about results. Of course, three points are not life or death – but professionally it is.

"I had to kind of understand that and when I understood it I could put it right. It is my profession, I have to be professional, I had to understand that.”

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