AFTV have removed regular guest Claude “indefinitely” after he made a racist remark about Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min, with channel owner Robbie Lyle issuing an apology after putting out a video attempting to absolve him of making such a slur.
The term ‘DVD’ is a derogatory slur aimed at Asian people, which depicts them as someone who sells illegal DVDs.
After receiving a social media backlash for the comment, Claude appeared on a second AFTV video with Lyle - who created the Arsenal fan channel in 2012 that has more than one million YouTube subscribers and 800m total views which generates a six-figure annual income - where they appeared to try and explain that the remark was not derogatory but an attempt to mock Spurs.
It was claimed that the term DVD was in reference to the club making a DVD to remember their 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the weekend, but the fact that the wording used by Claude didn’t fit with that suggestion and that it came just as Son was going off the pitch meant that viewers did not believe the reasoning.
Absolutely disgraceful and pitiful response from Robbie and Claude from AFTV. At no point did Robbie point out that Claude made the DVD comment the exact moment Son was being substituted. Glossing over racism once again. Shameful #AFTVOUT #GETOUTOFOURCLUB pic.twitter.com/GIy7dPmaq0— Fun With Flares (@Funwithflares)July 14, 2020
Subsequently, Lyle posted a series of tweets on Tuesday night to apologise for the incident and the secondary video, and said that Claude will no longer appear on the fan channel and will be asked to undergo a racial education programme.
“I would like to sincerely apologise for the derogatory remark heard on the AFTV livestream on Sunday, and for the response video that we put out today where we failed to apologise and take onus for the comment,” Lyle said.
“As a channel that has millions of viewers around the world, I fully recognise the power that comments made by myself or people on our platform have, and it is paramount that we do not allow comments of this nature to be made in any form.
“As such, it is only appropriate that Claude is removed from the channel indefinitely.
In no way do I or AFTV condone racism of any kind and it is important we take appropriate action in line with the comment made.”
Lyle featured in an ITV documentary titled ‘Football Fans Under The Skin’ earlier this year, which highlighted the negative experiences suffered by black football supporters at matches, including by the AFTV founder.
Following the incident with Claude, Lyle spoke to anti-racism group Kick It Out and decided that AFTV have to take responsibility for his comments rather than “try to sweep it under the carpet”.
“I have spoken with representatives at Kick It Out earlier today and must reiterate that this is not an issue I would ever try to sweep under the carpet or ignore,” Lyle added.
“The response video was a mistake and I can only apologise that we did not take responsibility for the comment sooner.
“In this time we will ensure that Claude undertakes an education programme to understand the full severity of the remark made on Sunday, and that comments of a similar nature are under no circumstance made again in the future.”
Speaking about his own experiences of racism in his ITV documentary, Lyle spoke of the loneliness that he felt when racially abused at matches. There have been videos that have surfaced online of the AFTV owner being targeted with racial slurs while attending matches.
“When professional footballers get racist abuse, they can leave the pitch and get home on the team bus whilst the black fan is left in the stands to fend for themselves,” Lyle said earlier this year. “When you went to football back in the day as a black fan it was dangerous.
“It was tough. It was hard, sometimes you were frightened. You stood out like a sore thumb and there were people who wanted to knock your head off only because you were black. It was bleak. I don’t want to see those days return for my children. But sadly I now believe that racism is creeping back into the game."