A ten-year-old Leeds United fan has become embroiled in an online race row after he blacked up to pose with his hero El Hadji Diouf. The child posted a series of pictures on his Twitter account provoking a backlash from users who said he was racist. But the primary school child said he did not realise it would be offensive and did it as a tribute to his footballing hero.
Smiling: The super fan poses with his hero El Hadji Diouf
The boy's father was forced to take to his son's Twitter account to defend him from accusations of racism. He wrote: "I want to apologise if [my son] dressing up has caused offence. He asked to dress up as Diouf so we let him for a bit of fun. We completely underestimated the response it would get. He's only 10 and likes the banter so lay off please thanks for positive comments."
The fan met his favourite player outside Elland Road ahead of his team's home game against Bolton Wanderers on New Year's Day. He said Diouf and other Leeds players found the "costume" - a blacked up face and head, Leeds kit and white mohican - funny. As well as Diouf, the child also posed with Leeds' captain Lee Peltier and players Ryan Hall and Sam Byram. The child also said midfielder Paul Green said to him: "How cool do you look?" The fan also posted pictures of him with Leeds United manager Neil Warnock, who he said found it funny, and police officers outside the ground. The boy also got to meet his hero once more in the tunnel. Ahead of the game he tweeted: "There's only 2 El-Hadji Dioufs...this is how I've come dressed today."
After the pictures were posted, Twitter users took to the social networking site accusing the child of racism. Within hours the pictures had been seen by people across the world and are still on the boy's site. One user wrote: "This is a touching photo mixed with a touch of racism."
Leeds fan: The child was also pictured with Leeds captain Lee Peltier, and Ryan Hall
Manager Neil Warnock also stopped for a picture with the fan Some questioned why a child was allowed to wear black make-up in the first place, with others saying the picture made them uncomfortable. However, many people defended the child. Norwich City footballer Robert Snodgrass wrote: "Can't a kid dress up as one of his favourite players these days without people moaning. We were kids once." Others joked that "miniDiouf" should be signed up by the club.
The child also later took to the social networking site to defend himself and said he is not racist. He wrote on his account: "Some ppl on here think im racist for going todays game fancy dress loke Diouf he loves it all the players do loads of fand been taking pics."
He also said "its a bit of fun" and claimed the footballer wanted the picture on his phone and took one himself. The super fan said he even shaved his head to look more like his hero. He said: "I am a big Leeds fan and love Diouf. I didnt realise I would get this much attention thanks for your comments but I am gonna watch rest of match now. Just to let you know that the makeup and hairstuff I was wearing was from a fancy dress shop and washed straight off am now in my pjs."