Father of Arsenal mascot says she had 'lovely time' after players accused of 'blanking' her

Arsenal's men's team signed a shirt for the mascot ahead of their match against West Ham on Sunday.

Watch: Young mascot appears to get blanked by Arsenal team during shirt signing

The father of an Arsenal mascot has said his daughter had a "lovely time" after the players were accused of "blanking" her during a shirt signing before a Premier League match.

Arsenal's senior men's team were criticised after the club's Twitter account posted a video of them with the mascot before their 2-2 draw with West Ham United on Sunday.

In the video, which has been viewed more than 7.7 million times, the team's manager, Mikel Arteta, followed by numerous first-team players, sign an Arsenal shirt for the mascot.

But the players were criticised by many viewers who felt they had "blanked" the schoolgirl mascot, who was still smiling for most of the 1 minute 49 second clip.

Arsenal captain Martin Ødegaard signs a shirt for a mascot on Sunday. (Arsenal/Twitter)

However, the girl's father tweeted on Tuesday: "My daughter had a lovely time as mascot for Arsenal.

"There was only a small window to meet the players and she enjoyed it very much.

"Ødegaard is her favourite player so to hold his hand onto the pitch was very special."

A spokesperson for Arsenal told Yahoo News UK that the clip was just a small part of the mascot's matchday experience, in which she met the players again in the tunnel, walked out on to the pitch with captain Martin Ødegaard and was on the pitch before the match with the team.

In the video, almost all of the players appeared to sign the shirt without saying hello to the girl or making eye contact with her.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: Martin Odegaard of Arsenal leads teammates onto the pitch prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on April 16, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arsenal captain Martin Ødegaard leads out his team against West Ham United on Sunday accompanied by a mascot. (Getty Images)

The video was posted by Arsenal's official Twitter account at 1.29pm on Sunday, just before the team's crunch game at the London Stadium.

The club posted the video with the caption, "Making memories with our mascot".

However, many social media users were quick to criticise the apparent lack of interaction in the video.

One wrote: "Look how much hope and adoration she has in her face and how much just a smile, nod and/or hello would have made her day."

Arsenal and England player Bukayo Saka signing a shirt for a mascot before his team's match against West Ham United at the London Stadium. (Arsenal/Twitter)

Another posted: "Are you actually kidding. Not one interaction with her. Entitled, overpaid and rude."

One Twitter user wrote: "That’s poor from them. Doesn’t take much to say hi or at least smile."

Another said: "Interaction with the girl makes memories not just signing a shirt."

Read more: Video of Arsenal team signing young mascot's shirt divides opinions

The players who signed the shirt included England star Bukayo Saka, goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, captain Ødegaard and Swiss international Granit Xhaka.

Among those to criticise the players was TV presenter Nick Knowles, who tweeted: "I suggest Arsenal you get her and her family back and give your players another go at being decent human beings - admittedly they’d have to be coached into it but it might be something that sticks with some of them if it’s pointed out."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta signs the mascot's shirt. (Arsenal/Twitter)

Former Scotland and Rangers footballer, now talkSPORT Breakfast host, Ally McCoist, said: “I thought it was shocking, I’ve been saying for a while now the gap between a footballer and the fan is bigger than it’s ever been.

“That was agony watching that, I was watching it thinking someone must give her a pat on the head or something, but nothing.”

However, others pointed out that the shirt signing was only one part of the matchday experience.

Videos posted on social media showed the players acknowledging the same girl, as well as a host of other mascots, in the tunnel before walking out for the match.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: West Ham United's Said Benrahma gets in between Arsenal's Bukayo Saka and Ben White during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal FC at London Stadium on April 16, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images)
Arsenal drew 2-2 with West Ham United in their game on Sunday. (Getty Images)

On Twitter, actor Billy Dunmore posted: "My younger brother was a mascot for Arsenal. This is just one part of the whole experience.

"Once the players are settled, the mascot meets them all, has chats and gets pictures."

Arsenal players have been praised this season for their interaction with mascots, with Ødegaard hailed just last month for giving his training jacket to one before a game against AFC Bournemouth.