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Telegraph Forced To Apologise To Adam Johnson Over 'Sickening' Celebration Accusation

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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When two Newcastle fans were killed aboard flight MH17 in July 2014, there was a noticeable change in relationship between fans of Newcastle and those their great rivals, Sunderland. Funds were raised, meetings were organised and by the time the two sides faced each other in December, police were willing to take a significantly softer approach to a rivalry that had often threatened to spill over such was the decrease in tension.

With that in mind, it certainly wasn't a good idea for the Telegraph to include some rather ludicrous social media accusations in their match report of Sunderland's 3-0 win over Newcastle this weekend. Adam Johnson slotted away a penalty just before half time and, as is his regular routine, he ran away with his arms outstretched in celebration. That prompted some comments from Newcastle fans on twitter that he was mocking the tragedy of the previous year.


Subsequently it also prompted this statement in the Telegraph's match report.

If there was one sour note for the Black Cats it was an accusation that Johnson had goaded Newcastle's supporters with an aeroplane celebration after his successful spot kick.

Some claimed the former England international was making a spiteful and provocative reference to the two Newcastle supporters who died when a Malaysia Airlines Flight was shot down over Ukraine last year. Johnson should apologise for any offence caused, even if was not intended as it was perceived.

Given that that particular celebration is so common it's almost boring at this stage, it's no surprise that the Telegraph received an awful lot of criticism for that final statement with terms such as 'sickening' and 'disgusting' being levelled at them via social media.

That ending has since been removed from the match report and the following apology has been published at the beginning of the article


Adam Johnson – an apology

In an earlier version of this report, we included the accusation that Adam Johnson had goaded Newcastle’s supporters with an aeroplane celebration after he scored his goal, which we suggested was a reference to the two Newcastle supporters who died when on the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine, last year. We now accept that there was absolutely nothing in the goal celebration which could be sensibly taken to have been a reference to these tragic deaths. We apologise unreservedly to Mr Johnson and have agreed to pay a sum of damages to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Given that, it's fair to say that the statement of 'Johnson should apologise for any offence caused' in the original report looks particularly unwarranted in hindsight.


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