The father of a 12-year-old Arsenal fan who was punched in the face by a middle-aged Manchester City fan has urged him to apologise.
Emerson Butler was hit in the face after he calmly said he thought a 2-2 draw between the two teams at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday was a fair result.
Emerson and his father Richard had been walking back to their car when they passed a parked mini-bus with a group of City fans who engaged them in brief conversation.
After Emerson made his comment about the draw, one of the group punched him in the face, bloodying his nose and mouth.
Mr Butler said his son was wearing an Arsenal top and is almost 6ft tall, but that he is obviously a child.
He expressed his shock that “something like this could happen at a football ground in 2016”.
He said: “Emerson is exceptionally tall, but there’s no mistaking him as not a child and the man had spent time speaking to him before that.
“He had looked right in Emerson’s face, he knew he was a child.
“Even now I still cannot believe that something like this has happened in 2016 at football. In the ’80s stuff like this happened, but not now.”
There has been widespread condemnation of the attack on football forums and now Mr Butler wants his son’s attacker to come forward to apologise.
He said: “I would like him to apologise.
“If he has the character to do that, I don’t know. It’s probably not going to happen.
“I’m hoping he will understand the mistake that he has made.”
Following the assault, Mr Butler said Emerson ran off “like an Olympic sprinter” and took a picture of his injuries when he got back to the car.
Mr Butler, a sports journalist and lifelong Arsenal fan living in Darlington, said he had been taking his son to matches since he was five, but that Emerson is now wary of going to games.
He said his son had previously liked chatting to opposing fans.
But the club has rallied around in an attempt to prove not all City fans behave like that.
The club’s management got in touch to offer Emerson a VIP trip back to the stadium when the two teams play each other again next year.
Fans have also set up a gofundme page to pay for “a proper Manchester City welcome” to Emerson and his father.
The page said: “We are raising money to show Emerson that the majority of Manchester City fans are decent, caring human beings.”
Mr Butler said the page has helped Emerson to see that the incident was a “one-off”.
He added: “I think Man City have come out of this really well except for one guy and his group.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police told Mirror Online the attack was a “really nasty thing to do” and appealed for anyone who may have been in the area at the time of the attack to come forward.
Additional reporting by PA