A NON-LEAGUE footballer has been suspended for seven months over sickening tweets sent to Republic of Ireland international and AFC Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter.
Former Hitchin Town and Codicote FC player, Alfie Barker, wrote a tweet mocking the death of Arter’s daughter Renee, who was stillborn in December 2015.
The 19-year-old sent the tweet after Bournemouth’s 3-3 draw with Arsenal at Vitality Stadium last month.
Following a Twitter backlash, Barker was quick to apologise after the incident, tweeting: “I’m sorry for every comment made, I’d like to apologise to Harry Arter and his family for such disgraceful comments.”
The teenager’s account has since been deleted and he has been sacked by non-league Hitchin Town, who slammed his “irresponsible and anti-social behaviour".
Codicote FC, with whom he was playing on loan at the time of the tweet, also released a short statement on Twitter.
We are disgusted & appalled at comments made by our loan player. We will work with the FA & other authorities on an appropriate solution.
— Codicote FC (@FC_Codicote) January 4, 2017
Now Barker has been handed a seven-month ban from football after he admitted to an FA charge at a hearing on Tuesday.
The ban is the fourth-longest dished out in FA history, after Eric Cantona (nine months for fly-kicking a fan), Mark Bosnich (nine months after testing positive for cocaine), and Rio Ferdinand (eight months for skipping a drugs test).
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live last month, Barker expressed regret over his comments:
I was watching Arsenal at home and I was hyper. At 3-0 down they weren't playing well and I was annoyed.
I'd had a couple of beers and was frustrated at the way the team was playing and I just lashed out. I have no idea why I focused on Harry Arter and his family and I am so, so sorry for what I have done.
It was a moment of madness. It's the worst thing I've ever done in my life, but it is so out of character. I honestly don't know why I did it.
I also completely understand why Hitchin Town took the action they did and I completely agree they did the right thing.
Barker also revealed that he takes medication to combat the symptoms of ADHD and a mild form of autism.
Harry Arter’s fiancée, Rachel Irwin, is currently pregnant and due to give birth to a baby girl in February.
The Ireland midfielder is yet to comment on the matter.