Manchester United defender Chris Smalling apologized for making an "insensitive decision" after controversial photos surfaced of him dressed as a suicide bomber at a birthday costume party.
The 24-year-old English footballer wore a keffiyeh, olive flak jacket and a circuit board that connected wires to bottles of Jägermeister and Red Bull. Smalling said his costume was a play on the term Jägerbomb and that he went to the party as a Jägerbomber. The costume sparked outrage in the U.K., when photos of Smalling’s costume appeared in the Sun on Wednesday.
The Wasserman Media Group, Smalling’s management company, put out the following statement on his behalf:
"Chris and his girlfriend hosted a fancy dress party to celebrate Christmas and their belated birthdays with close friends in the assumed privacy of his own home. He dressed in a costume consisting of empty bottles of Jagermeister and cans of Red Bull strapped to his chest in an attempted comedy play on the popular 'Jagerbomb' drink. Although he fully accepts in hindsight it was an ill-thought out and insensitive decision, absolutely no harm was intended whatsoever and he apologizes for any offence caused."
Jacqui Putnam, a survivor of the 2005 London bus suicide bombings, told the Guardian that Smalling’s suicide bomber costume was no laughing matter.
"It is silliness really. I do not think people who do these things mean any harm but unfortunately the effect it has on people like me and people who are in a worse position -- those who lost loved ones -- is hurtful,” she said. "I am sure that he did not mean to offend anyone but I wish people would think twice. If people could only think twice about the pain this could cause to people who have lost loved ones in these circumstances it would be appreciated by survivors and the bereaved alike."
Graham Foulkes, whose son David died in the bombings, told the Mirror that Smalling’s suicide bomber costume was “one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen.”
Smalling also took heat on Twitter, where his name was trending Thursday in the U.K.:
How would Chris Smalling like it if a suicide bomber exploded near him, not very much I reckon. I'm so offended. Let's take the bastard down
â€” Paul Newman (@JasonKingHQ) January 9, 2014
If Chris Smalling really did dress up as a suicide bomber for a christmas fancy dress at home it is the least appropriate costume imaginable
â€” rob marshall (@robmarshall33) January 9, 2014
Chris smalling thought it funny enough to dress like a suicide bomber which shows how lightly he takes the whole situation. End his contract
â€” Collins Wafi (@Wafizim) January 9, 2014
Chris Smalling is a disgrace to the club.
â€” Anthony Vaz (@tonyvazz) January 9, 2014
But there were also others who supported the Manchester United defender:
Harsh treatment of Chris Smalling. Same costume worn by many over halloween. Was not direct insult to anyone. World has become way too PC!!
â€” Ryan Johnston (@ryanjonline) January 9, 2014
What a load of nonsense this Chris Smalling story is, have a day off will ya !!!!!!
â€” Jon Prince (@JonnyWuTang) January 9, 2014
Chris Smalling was only having a joke.. It's not that offensive surely? It's quite funny in my opinion haha !
â€” Sam Webb (@SamWebbHair) January 9, 2014