Jeremy Corbyn has added to the growing anger towards Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, with the Labour leader confirming he is “disgusted” with the new bloodsports and trophy hunting TV channel launched by the American.
Arsenal fan Mr Corbyn issued a statement on Monday night to express his unhappiness after Mr Kroenke’s company, Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE), launched My Outdoor TV (MOTV) in the United Kingdom over the weekend.
“I’m appalled at the glorification of killing wild and rare animals on this TV channel,” Mr Corbyn said.
“As an Arsenal fan I’m disgusted that Stan Kroenke is involved in such a brutal, unethical and unnecessary activity.
“This is not sport. Kroenke should stick to football if he wants to be involved in sport.
“In my mind ‘blood sport’ is a contradiction and there should be no place on television or anywhere else for it.”
MOTV launched in the United States in 2016, but it wasn’t released in the UK until last weekend at the Game Fair in Hertfordshire as an online app. Supporters of the channel have described it as the “Netflix of the hunting world”, while a spokesperson claimed it will “present ethical, fair, chase hunting and as long as it’s legal it will be on there”.
The channel is run by Outdoor Sportsman Group, part of KSE, which has so far declined to comment on the controversy, though Simon Barr, an MOTV spokesman, defended the coverage. “MOTV will present ethical, fair chase hunting and as long as it’s legal it will be on there. If you like hunting elephants, there will be legal elephant hunts, ethical elephant hunts, shown in that context,” Mr Barr said.
Despite its support in the US, the announcement has received a ferocious backlash in the UK, with comedian Ricky Gervais, presenters Rachel Riley and Robert Peston, and Olympian Greg Rutherford all expressing their horror at the news.
Cricketer Kevin Pietersen also took aim at Mr Kroenke, labelling the American billionaire “scum” and called for Arsenal supporters to try and do all they can to force him out of the club.
“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,” Pietersen exclusively told The Independent. “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.”
Mr Kroenke owns 67 per cent of Arsenal’s shares and has seen a large number of fans protest against his ownership of the club, particularly last season, when Arsene Wenger’s side missed out on the top four for the first time since 1996. Mr Kroenke also owns Major League Soccer franchise Colorado Rapids, as well as National Football League team Los Angeles Rams.
The Independent has contacted KSE and Arsenal for comment but has not received a reply.
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