One of the stars of ArsenalFanTV (AFTV) has died.
Claude Callegari was a familiar face to Gunners fans on the YouTube channel and website, known for his impassioned rants on the North London football team, particularly his critiques of famed manager, Arsène Wenger.
He died at the age of 58 on 29 March, his family have confirmed. The cause of his death has not been confirmed.
‘I hope you are finally at peace’
A fan favourite among AFTV supporters, tributes have been pouring in for Callegari.
A statement from fellow Arsenal fans Terry and Diesel – who ran a YouTube channel called ‘Claude and the Bansta’s’ alongside Callegari – described the late fan as a “dear friend and legend”.
“We can’t believe we are writing this, with permission from Claude’s father, it is with great sadness and a broken heart that we have to announce that our dear friend and legend Claude sadly passed away yesterday afternoon.”
Writing on Instagram, another of AFTV’s more well-known names – Troopz – said Callegari ”showed me love from the get go”.
“[You] made my misses feel comfortable when she came to events and always shows [sic] my kids love. I hope you are finally at peace godfather. RIP Legend.”
Callegari’s status among the footballing fan community has seen other teams’ fan clubs pay their respects.
West Ham Fan TV said: “Very sad to hear that Claude has passed away, We have worked together quite a few times & always loved the Banter we had when doing match previews. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his family and friends at this sad time.”
Started in 2012, ArsenalFanTV (now simply known as AFTV) includes fan interviews, match previews and reviews of the team and players’ performances, and has become known for its outspoken opinions on the club.
Callegari had been a fixture of the channel for many years, when he was removed “indefinitely” in July 2020 following a racist slur directed at Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son during Arsenal’s loss to Spurs in the North London derby.
He had been commenting on the game during an online live-stream when the remark was made against the South Korean player.
Callegari’s comments prompted a video in which he attempted to justify his words, but AFTV were forced to remove him after Arsenal FC issued a statement, in which the club said it operates a “zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination”, and clarified that AFTV has “no official association with Arsenal”.
Callegari later apologised for his actions.
"I want to apologise to Spurs fans and Son for that because of the offence it has caused,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. "What can I do? It's caused a lot of offence and I want to apologise because I admire Son as a player."
A divisive issue among Arsenal fans, many say AFTV paints fans of the club in a negative light, leading to the hashtag #AFTVOUT.
A recent controversy came in August 2020, when presenters celebrated as Chelsea player Christian Pulisic was injured and had to be taken off during the FA Cup Final.