A footballer from Turkish side Galatasaray caused a Twitter storm by publicising a set of club-branded knives – on the day Leeds United remembered two fans stabbed to death in Istanbul.
Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight were murdered before United’s UEFA Cup semi-final clash with Galatasaray in April 2000.
A minute’s silence was held before the Championship game between Leeds and Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road on Saturday to mark the 15th anniversary of the tragedy.
But the occasion was overshadowed by controversy caused by a tweet from Galatasaray’s Wesley Sneijder promoting a club-branded knife set that he is endorsing.
The Holland international caused anger by posting a picture of the knives, which carry his image, saying the item was now “finally” available for sale.
His tweet was met with an angry response from Leeds fans and was soon deleted, and Sneijder wrote to one supporter apologising, saying: “@Leedsu1Ross Very sorry. I didn’t know this and deleted our promotion for the merchandise kitchen item. #Respect.”
There was a mixed response from Leeds fans on social media, with some branding Sneijder “ignorant” but others accepting the apology.
On Facebook Jonathan Holmes wrote: “I accept his apology, he couldn’t have known and he deleted the tweet, but why are footballers endorsing kitchen knives? Bizarre.”
A United spokesman said: “It would be disappointing to see this on any day but especially this weekend when we have a number of tributes planned out of respect for the fans who went to watch their team and never came home.”
Ali Umit Demur was jailed for 15 years in 2002 for the killings. Four other men were jailed for their part in the attack.
As well as the minute’s silence, fans held aloft photographs of Mr Loftus and Mr Speight at Saturday’s game.