A club mascot was sent off during an Irish football match, in a move which has caused outrage on social media.
Harper the Dog, mascot of Finn Harps in the League of Ireland Premier Division, was removed during his side’s match with Sligo Rovers for appearing to imitate the opposition goalkeeper – reportedly having been seen pretending to save shots behind the goal.
On Twitter many, including the club itself, contested the decision to make Harper walk using the hashtag #JusticeForHarper
Meanwhile, the Mayor of Fingal, Eoghan O’Brien, shared his condolences with Harper – having experienced a very similar fate as Sporting Fingal’s mascot, Fingal Fred.
“Brings back painful memories of the 2009 @FAIreland Cup Final,” wrote Mr O’Brien on Twitter.
“Making my mascoting debut as Freddie the Fox for (Sporting Fingal) vs (Sligo Rovers), I was sent off for impersonating the linesman.
“Keep your chin up brother, there are better days ahead.”
Photographer Clare McCahill, from Ramelton, County Donegal, was at the game and said Harper has been “goofing about” with the Harps supporters behind the Rovers goal and explained his contentious sending off.
“He was doing things like play-acting that the wall was a lamppost – imagine what a dog would do – but it was all pretty harmless stuff,” the 52-year-old told PA.
“None of this was interfering with play, though I began to notice it and some of the Sligo Rovers fans behind me noticed, so I guess it was becoming a distraction.”
Ms McCahill said Harper was then approached by a man in an orange jacket and asked to leave the pitch, to the cheers of the Rovers fans.
“Harper was shocked, horrified and protested by throwing his hands/paws in the air before hopping over the wall into the crowd and wandering off with his tail between his legs,” she said.
“I’ve seen some red cards this season but this was the best ever… I was just waiting for someone to shout ‘Fenton! FENTON!'”
Fortunately for Harper his sending off did not distract the team, with Harps going on to defeat Rovers 2-0 at Finn Park.