Wildlife presenter Ben Fogle has joined a host of prominent opponents to speak out against Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s TV channel dedicated to hunting animals for sport.
The billionaire shareholder in the Premier League club has sparked outrage after his My Outdoor TV (MOTV) channel launched in the UK, featuring big game hunts, primarily in Africa.
The League Against Cruel Sports has lambasted the “sickening TV” and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Tuesday that he was “disgusted”.
In a blog published on HuffPost UK, Fogle said Kroenke’s show had the potential to “radicalise” young people into hunting and called for Arsenal fans to boycott the club.
“[Kroenke] may relish the murder of endangered wildlife himself but he should not peddle his disgusting programmes on a country that still prides itself as a nation of animal lovers.
“As a billionaire philanthropist Kroenke should be putting money into conservation not making money from its destruction,” Fogle writes.
“If we really care about this, I call upon the nation to hit him where it really hurts, our great sport of football.
“Let him know we aren’t a nation that supports the killing of animals for fun, endangered or not. Boycott Arsenal and Save the Elephant.”
Fogle joins a host of other prominent opponents to Kroenke’s new channel.
Former England cricket captain Kevin Pietersen said he found the idea of the show “sickening” and branded the American “scum”.
Pietersen, who is raising awareness of illegal poaching in South Africa, told The Independent: “Enough is enough. These stunning animals are being slaughtered to the point of extinction and for anyone to celebrate it is absolutely repugnant.
“I’ve had so many messages from Arsenal fans telling me they hate him as much as anyone, so if that’s the case, he has to be driven out. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want this person representing something I love.”
ITV’s political editor Robert Peston said in a tweet that he felt “sick” that, as an Arsenal supporter, he pays money to Kroenke.
A spokesman for MOTV defended the programmes that will make up its coverage, saying “ethical, fair chase hunting” will be presented.
“If you like hunting elephants, there will be legal elephant hunts, ethical elephant hunts, shown in that context,” a spokesman said.
But this argument was rejected by Philippa King, the League Against Cruel Sports’ chief operating officer.
King said: “This is a massive own goal for Stan Kroenke. We’re living in a world now where most people can see how brutal and shameful trophy hunting is, yet the Arsenal boss is choosing to launch his sick TV channel in the UK.
“The channel claims to show ‘ethical, fair chase and legal’ hunting. Most people won’t agree that trophy hunting is in any way ethical, and studies have debunked claims that most of the blood money goes towards supporting conservation.
“I’m not sure in what way an idiot with a gun against an elephant is a fair chase.”
King added: “And yes, the hunting they show might be legal – though if they start showing hunting in the UK they’ll have to tread very carefully.
“Hunts claim to be trail hunting when they chase foxes, stags and hares, but we’ve shown that the vast majority of trail hunting is just a false alibi for the actual hunting and killing of animals.
“If this channel starts showing trail hunting, they’ll be on very rocky ground.
“Mr Kroenke could do the world a great favour by stopping pedalling this kind of sickening TV and turning his focus on helping the animals he apparently likes to see killed.”