UNDER-fire Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths retweeted two key supporters in the hours after he allegedly made a racist outburst on the micro-blogging site.
The controversial talisman – who faces disciplinary action after posting an alleged racist remark that will be investigated by police – retweeted Partick Thistle player Paul Paton and black Edinburgh resident – and Cowdenbeath player – Joseph Mbu, we can reveal.
Paton said “the amount of stick he [Leigh] takes is a joke” while Mbu tweeted: “I know ur not like that.”
Retweeting the sympathetic posts chimed with Hibs fans who feel – on and off the pitch – the player has been subjected to too much abuse.
Despite the obvious support for the on-loan 22-year-old, however, his alleged remarks look set to land him in hot water.
The row, first reported by the Evening News yesterday, stems from a heated exchange between Griffiths and a Twitter user named Zak Iqbal.
Mr Iqbal, who is believed to be from Livingston, West Lothian, called the player “thumb boy” before questioning why he made fun of others’ appearances.
Griffiths responded by saying “f**k off back to your own country ya clown” in a tweet sent to almost 13,000 followers just before midnight on Thursday.
The SPL’s joint top scorer, who is on loan from English club Wolverhampton Wanderers, later apologised and removed the post from his Twitter account. He acknowledged that he was “out of order” before his account was closed to new followers.
Following the closure he retweeted Paton and Mbu.
Mbu’s full post said: “Head up mate, I know ur not like that! Too many idiots thinking it’s ok to abuse people on Twitter! You apologised he accepted it.” Paton said: “Feel sorry for @LeighG28m, the amount of stick he takes is a joke, people abusing him and his family, one out of turn reply and now trouble.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said initial inquiries were being made into the incident while Wolves condemned the slur, saying that they were “extremely angry and disappointed”.
In a separate statement Hibs said they were speaking to the player about the exchanges.
A Wolves spokesman said: “The club condemns such comments in the strongest possible terms and are extremely angry and disappointed.
“The player is currently on loan at Hibernian FC and is likely to remain there for the rest of the season. He is, therefore, subject to the disciplinary procedures of Hibernian FC and those of the Scottish Football Association. However, Wolves are in dialogue with Hibernian and are making their feelings known on the matter.”
It is not the first time Griffiths has fallen foul of comments made on the social media forum.
In July he jokingly tweeted “hotel like a prison camp . . . #getmehomeasap”, just 24 hours before Hibs ended their pre-season tour of Holland, Belgium and Germany with a match against German Second Division outfit Union Berlin. Hibs boss Pat Fenlon admitted at the time he felt certain people were deliberately singling out Griffiths because the young striker was an easy target.
The race row follows several highly-publicised incidents in the English Premier League over the past 14 months.
Liverpool striker Luis Suárez was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 after being found guilty of misconduct over “insulting words” used towards Patrice Evra of Manchester United.
Former England captain John Terry was similarly fined £220,000 and suspended for four games by a Football Association panel for using insulting words that included a reference to the colour or race of Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.