The name Mohamed Al Fayed may ring a bell with you as it’s been in the headlines several times over the years. Fayed is Egyptian, but most well known in Britain, where he’s lived for decades. He used to be the owner of Harrods in London, which could very well be the world’s most popular and expensive department store.
His son, Dodi Fayed, died along with Princess Diana when their car crashed in a Parisian tunnel in 1997. Al Fayed grabbed attention around the world for claiming the British government and even the Royal Family had murdered his son and Lady Diana. Of course, these statements proved to be nothing more than hot air after an official inquest in 2008 and Al Fayed should have counted himself lucky that he wasn’t charged with treason.
But, it’s his last claim to fame that has Al Fayed in the headlines across the globe. He’s also the owner of London soccer club Fulham F. C., which plays in the English Premier League. Despite Al Fayed’s riches, the club is actually the least glamorous of the London sides, which include the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Al Fayed, in his infinite wisdom, figured the team’s home soccer stadium, known as Craven Cottage, was lacking something. And this something just happened to be a life-size statue of the late King of Pop Michael Jackson who died in 2009.
The statue was unveiled at the club’s ground by Al Fayed on April 3rd and has caused a controversy like you wouldn’t believe. Forget that Al Fayed called the Queen and Prince Philip murderers he’s really pissed the fans off this time with his statue of Jackson.
The majority of fans just don’t see the connection between Jackson and soccer even if Al fayed was friends with the late singer and hosted him at a game in Fulham in 1999. But Al Fayed isn’t somebody who just voices his own strong opinions, he’s somebody who likes to shove them down other people’s throats and if you disagree with him then you’re branded an idiot.
After the Jackson statue was met with so much criticism Al Fayed said “Why is it bizarre? Football fans love it. If some stupid fans don’t understand and appreciate such a gift, they can go to hell. I don’t want them to be fans. If they don’t understand and don’t believe in things I believe in, they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else.”
This outburst has now added fuel to the already high-octane fire and he’s now distanced thousands of fans even further. But Al Fayed’s defence of the statue has already been shot full of holes because it was originally set to be erected at Harrods. However, after selling the famous store he had nowhere else to pout it other than at Fulham.
Not only has the statue alienated Fulham supporters, it appears Jackson fans aren’t too thrilled with the idea either and would rather see the statue beat it somewhere else. A group calling itself the United Michael Jackson Fans of the World as started an online petition against Al Fayed. They say the statue is in an inappropriate and unsafe place to visit.
Another person who can’t see the sense in the move is Avril Haynes, the widow of former Fulham star Johnny ‘the Maestro’ Haynes, who is also immortalized at Craven Cottage with his own statue. She said she was absolutely aghast after hearing about the plan to erect Jackson’s statue next to her late husband’s and compared it to putting the Maestro’s statue up at Jackson’s Neverland ranch, which would be just as ridiculous.
It’s unclear how this controversy and war of words is going to turn out, but don’t be surprised if there are thousands of empty seats at Fulham’s next home game.