Arsenal fans set-up petition to try force sponsors into condemning club owner Stan Kroenke over hunting TV channel
Supporters of the Premier League club are furious with the owner's association with a TV channel that broadcasts bloodsports and trophy hunting.
A petition calling for Arsenal’s sponsors to call for club owner Stan Kroenke to stand down has nearly reached 50,000 signatures, as pressure continues to grow on the American billionaire following the launch of his hunting television channel.
Mr Kroenke, 70, has faced ferocious criticism over the last 48 hours after it was revealed that a television channel that broadcasts bloodsports and trophy killing is owned by his company, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
The channel, My Outdoor TV [MOTV], was launched in the UK at the weekend and will be available as a pay-for-subscription app online, although leading figures across television, sport and even politics have called for the channel to be banned due to the “sickening” and “diusgusting” coverage that it broadcasts of endangered animals being hunted and killed.
MOTV has caused particular outrage among Arsenal supporters, given that a number of them protested against Mr Kroenke’s ownership of the club last season, and a petition has been set-up calling on main sponsors Emirates, Puma and Vitality to “publicly condemn Kroenke’s action and call for him to stand down” and set-up a “meeting between the Arsenal board, key sponsors to the club, leading animal rights charities and most importantly representing members of the international fan bases regarding this situation.”
The petition, created by Rhys Brown, adds: “This is abhorrent and unethical, and it is something which cannot be associated with Arsenal Football Club.”
All three of the sponsors mentioned have previously released statements about their position against animal cruelty, with Emirates reacting to criticism of its availability to transport animals to destinations where they are potentially at risk by changing its regulations to prevent any trophy killings being allowed on its flights.
Former England cricketer, Kevin Pietersen, told The Independent on Monday that Mr Kroenke “and those who contribute and support those practices, are scum”, and the Surrey batsman called on Arsenal fans to do everything they can to try and force Kroenke out of the club due to the image that it gave it in being associated to a channel that broadcasts such controversial programmes.
“I find it sickening that anyone could want to endanger these animals whatsoever, but for someone to turn it into a TV show for entertainment absolutely boils my blood. The guy, and those who contribute and support those practices, are scum.
“Enough is enough. These stunning animals are being slaughtered to the point of extinction and for anyone to celebrate it is absolutely repugnant.
“I’ve had so many messages from Arsenal fans telling me they hate him as much as anyone, so if that’s the case, he has to be driven out. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want this person representing something I love.
“These animals don’t have a voice, but we do. If we don’t do anything, no-one will.”
Pietersen was joined in condemning the channel by comedian Ricky Gervais, presenters Rachel Riley and Robert Peston, and Olympian Greg Rutherford along with many others on social media. However, so far neither Arsenal nor Kroenke Sports and Entertainment have been willing to comment on the controversy.
The Independent has contacted both Arsenal and KSE for comment but has not had a reply.
The Independent has also contacted Emirates, Puma and Vitality for comment, and is awaiting a response.
The petition set out to gain 50,000 signatures and at time of writing was fewer than 3,000 short of its target.
(© Independent News Service)
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