Matt Le Tissier has quit as an ambassador at Southampton football club, shortly after stopping short of apologising for spreading conspiracy theories about Russia’s massacre of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, in his latest Twitter posts on Wednesday morning.
The Southampton hero was savaged by his followers on Tuesday after appearing to suggest that the media have lied about the unfolding horrors in eastern Europe.
He retweeted a post from an account named Unity News Net, which claimed the atrocities in Ukraine had been falsified by the media after ‘weapons of mass destruction’, ‘Covid’ and ‘the Hunter Biden laptop’. Le Tissier captioned his tweet ‘This’, with a finger-pointing emoji down to the Unity News Net post.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, the 53-year-old said: ‘To all the fans of sfc. I have decided to step aside from my role as an ambassador of SFC. My views are my own and always have been, and it’s important to take this step today to avoid any confusion.
‘This does not affect my relationship with and love for my club, and I will always remain a fan and supporter of everything Saints. I can, however, see that due to recent events it’s important to separate the work I believe in from my relationship with the club I have supported and played for most of my life.
‘I will see you all at St Mary’s and will always do anything I can to help the club.’
Matt Le Tissier has quit his role as an ambassador at his former club Southampton
Le Tissier had angered fans after spreading conspiracy theories about the Bucha massacre
On Twitter, Le Tissier retweeted a post suggesting the media have ‘lied’ about certain events
Earlier on Wednesday in response to his tweet about events in Ukraine, Le Tissier wrote: ‘Let me make something very clear I do not advocate war in any way shape or form I do not advocate anyone taking lives of others and anyone who commits such acts should be dealt with accordingly, any atrocities leave devastating effects on the families of the victims and us all. ‘
But the vast majority of replies to Le Tissier over the last 24 hours have not been suggesting he was ever advocating or supporting the war in Ukraine.
His followers were instead dismayed that he was appearing to question the legitimacy of the horrifying reports of Vladimir Putin’s forces slaughtering civilians and dumping their bodies into mass graves.
Grisly images of what are claimed to be civilian massacres allegedly carried out by Russian forces in Bucha before they withdrew have stirred a global outcry in recent days, and prompted Western nations to expel dozens of Moscow’s diplomats and propose further sanctions, including a ban on coal imports from Russia.
US president Joe Biden lambasted Putin as a ‘war criminal’ and described the killing of civilians in Bucha as a ‘war crime’.
‘This guy is brutal, and what’s happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone sees it,’ Biden said, as he called for a war crimes trial.
Le Tissier then tried to distance himself from his posts by saying he does ‘not advocate war’
Le Tissier played 270 Premier League games for Southampton and scored 100 goals
It is unsurprising, therefore, that Le Tissier’s message on Wednesday appeared to do little to appease anyone. One reply to him read: ‘Best not use the rape of women, the deaths of men, women and children, the destruction, genocide and suffering of innocent people to make a point about media manipulation.’
One follower asked Le Tissier: ‘And you confirm that you do not think those images from Bucha are fake? Important clarification. ‘
Another said: ‘Ever think that if you have to post this explanation then there might be something wrong with your general rhetoric?’
A different reply read: ‘Real shame Matt – think you should stay off social media before you completely sabotage yourself.’
Le Tissier played 270 times for Southampton in the Premier League, scoring 100 goals. He also played eight times for England.
Le Tissier’s tweet on Wednesday did little to appease fans who were dismayed by his posts
Le Tissier had backpedaled after his tweet on Tuesday, saying: ‘Deleted previous tweet as people as usual missing the point, the point was about the media manipulation but you knew that really.’
Gary Lineker and David Baddiel appeared to critcise Le Tissier’s initial post. Comedian Baddiel wrote: ‘I’m starting to wonder if Terry Venables was right’, seemingly referencing the time Le Tissier was dropped by the England manager for Euro 96.
Replying to Baddiel, Lineker said: ‘He so often was. Wtf? ‘
Le Tissier, a former Sky Sports pundit, has also used his Twitter platform to spread Covid-19 vaccine conspiracy theories. He has over 570,000 followers.
Last November, The Times reported that Le Tissier’s posts were being shared by Premier League footballers who were hesitant about getting vaccinated.
Pictured: Bags containing bodies of civilians, who residents say were shot by Russians troops
A visibly emotional President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the devastation in the war-torn town
David Baddiel and Gary Lineker have also discussed the controversial post from Le Tissier
Le Tissier has also been involved in a string of other controversies on social media.
He once re-shared an image which had been posted by a user in response to a video showing a police officer challenging a member of the public on a train about the failure to wear a protective mask.
The image used showed holocaust victim Anne Frank, with words above which read: ‘The people who hid Anne Frank were breaking the law. The people who killed her were following it. ‘
Speaking to The Telegraph in February, Le Tissier rejected claims he is a conspiracy theorist and said he has taken other vaccines but admitted friends have mocked him for certain things he has said in the past.
‘Some of them still think I’m a lunatic,’ he said. ‘A couple of them do think I’m a proper conspiracy theorist and they take the p *** out of me for it. I take it and give a bit back. That’s how it is. We don’t fall out over it and that’s the best thing to do. ‘
Recently Le Tissier re-shared an image which had been posted by a user in response to a video showing a police officer challenging a member of the public on a train about the failure to wear a protective mask
Le Tissier left Sky Sports in August 2020.
‘When I had the Zoom call to tell me that we were being let go, I asked the question, “Has this got anything to do with my social media posts?” and the response I got was, “We have to be concerned about the reputation of our company”. That is what they told me, ‘Le Tissier said.
‘I’ve always said that the response [to the pandemic] was not proportionate. A deliberate overreaction in my opinion. If they were scared about it, they wouldn’t be having parties while the rest of us were locked in our houses, would they? We can’t be so fearful of death that we stop living.
‘I’ve always been somebody who will stick up for what he believes in but, at the same time, if the evidence changes and I am proved that I was wrong, then I would be the first person to hold my hands up and go , “I’m really sorry, I read that completely wrong”, ‘. You move forward by having debates and giving people the opportunity to hear both sides. ‘