Arsenal fans feel the burn as they show disdain for Robin van Persie following move to Manchester United

  • @willydean

As a species, humans have a complicated relationship with fire. It's fair to say that our eating, living and working habits would be pretty different if our great-great-great-great ancestors hadn't worked out how to conjure flames.

Conversely, it's also the way in which we show our utter distaste for something. Don't like it? Burn it! Young French Catholic woman causing you a bit of bother? Burn her! Books by Bertolt Brecht, James Joyce and Leon Trotsky not conducive to your regime of state terror? Burn them! And now comes something equally profound. The ritual replica football-shirt burning. Player left your team of choice? Burn his shirt!

When Arsenal announced on Wednesday night that they'd agreed to sell Dutch striker Robin van Persie to rivals Manchester United, YouTube was soon greeted with videos of unhappy Gooners setting fire to their "Van Persie 10" shirts. Sample title: "robin van persie judas scum – shirt burning" (sic). It followed on a similar trend last year when Samir Nasri's shirt was the burned replica of choice.

Football isn't the only sport where shirt burning is hot. Angry Cleveland Cavaliers NBA fans flamed LeBron James by setting his vests alight when he moved to Miami. And NFL star Tim Tebow also saw his Denver Broncos jersey burned when his team lost in the play-offs.

When you spend £50 on a sports shirt, maybe don't get your favourite player's name on it. (Especially if you're an Arsenal fan.)