Thousands of pounds have been raised for the Bradley Lowery Foundation after the young mascot, who died from cancer, was allegedly mocked at a match in Sheffield in an “outrageous and deplorable” incident that has sparked outrage among the football community.
Two Sheffield Wednesday fans were accused of laughing while holding up a picture of a sick Bradley during a game against Sunderland on Friday night, in an apparent bid to taunt opposition fans.
Bradley was a big Sunderland fan and attended games as a mascot, capturing the nation’s heart before dying from a rare type of blood cancer in 2017, aged six. He became “best mates” with striker Jermaine Defoe, the former England international, before passing away.
South Yorkshire Police said two men, aged 31 and 27, have been held on suspicion of outraging public decency. The force earlier said it had launched an investigation after fans appeared to mock the death of mascot Bradley during Friday’s match at Hillsborough.
Last night Bradley’s mum Gemma told of her heartbreak at the incident, with the boy’s family hitting out at the two “lowlifes” accused of being involved.
In a post on Facebook, she said: “This is so sad for me to see – whatever happened to ‘cancer has no colours’, let alone respect for a family that lost their baby to cancer?”
A post on the Bradley Lowery Foundation page, which was set up by Ms Lowery, said: “Bradley was and still is well loved in the football community, which I’m eternally grateful for, but I must ask that everyone lets the police do their job, and deal with the lowlifes.”
The foundation, set up to help raise money for other sick children, said on Sunday morning it had been “overwhelmed” by the support shown by fans following the incident.
“We are so thankful to SWFC [Sheffield Wednesday Football Club] and all of the fans for showing your support.
“We know the views of a couple are not the views of the majority, and will forever be grateful for this gesture, which will be put towards our holiday home in Scarborough.”
Sheffield Wednesday supporters set up a GoFundMe page following the “sickening” incident.
“Wednesday fans would like to raise funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation to show our support and stand up against this type of behaviour in football,” organiser Leanne Wood wrote on the page.
Nearly £7,000 has already been raised by over 500 donors.
Sheffield Wednesday said in a statement: “We are aware of the images circulating and have launched an immediate investigation together with South Yorkshire Police.
“We roundly condemn this outrageous and utterly deplorable behaviour. We can only apologise for the undoubted distress caused to Bradley’s family and friends.”
South Yorkshire Police said in a statement: “Officers have arrested two men in connection to an ongoing investigation into public order offences following a football match.
“We are in the early stages of our investigation and continue to urge anyone who believes they have information that can assist to get in touch online, via live chat or by calling 101.”