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Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard condemn antisemitism after being pictured with rapper Wiley

"We just all happened to be in the same place at the same time."

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 26th January 2022

Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard have both spoken out to publicly condemn antisemitism after an image of the two with rapper Wiley has been circulating online.

The Manchester United and England pair were photographed with the 43-year-old grime artist in an image which is thought to have been taken on Sunday in Dubai, where Wiley has been performing and a number of England footballers are currently on holiday.

Wiley – whose real name is Richard Kylea Cowie, and is often labelled the ‘Godfather of Grime’ – was one of the most well-known and successful artists on the UK grime scene since the turn of the century, but was notably dropped by his management back in 2020 after making a number of offensive and antisemitic comments during rants on social media.

The rapper has been banned from Twitter and Instagram multiple times for his remarks.

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Following the circulation of the image on social media this week, Rashford and Lingard have both issued statements condemning the rapper’s previous comments.

They have insisted they do not support Wiley or his beliefs.

24-year-old Rashford said in his statement on Twitter yesterday: “This picture has been brought to my attention which I understand now, given context, could easily be misconstrued. I would like to reinforce that I do not and will not condone discriminative language or behaviour of any kind aimed at the Jewish community or any other community.

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“I truly believe that tackling antisemitism in and outside of the game requires a greater level of attention and should very much form part of the game’s anti-racism stance.”

When further questioned on Twitter by a Jewish journalist about the context of the picture as this was “not explained in [his] statement”, Rashford responded that he “wasn’t aware” of Wiley’s comments at the time the photo was taken.

“I wasn’t aware of comments that had been made when I got pulled into a photo opportunity. Comments that I absolutely condemn [and] I apologise for any upset caused,” he said.

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“We just all happened to be in the same place at the same time.”

Jesse Lingard also took to Twitter to speak out after the picture was seen circulating.

The 29-year-old said: “I’ve been made aware of a photo circulating currently, that can easily be misconstrued.

“I want to make it clear that I do not condone any form of racism whatsoever.”

Back in July 2020, shortly after the rapper made several offensive comments against Jewish people on social media, Wiley did an interview with Sky News about such antisemitic beliefs, where he refused to distance himself from them, and claimed the comments were aimed at his Jewish manager.

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“My comments should not have been directed to all Jews or Jewish people,” he said.

“I want to apologise for generalising, and I want to apologise for comments that were looked at as antisemitic.”

Sky News was strongly criticised for giving the rapper a platform to explain himself.

Featured Image – Instagram (@manchesterunited | @jesselingard)