'He's not dead': Message book for injured Liverpool star Van Dijk taken down after being ridiculed by rival fans
In a since-deleted tweet on Monday, the Liverpool Echo urged supporters to leave messages of support for the defender, who will require knee surgery after being on the receiving end of a reckless challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby on Saturday.
“We’re gathering messages of support for Virgil van Dijk,” the tweet read, accompanied by a black-and-white picture of the center-back. “One day, we will watch him defend and watch him score once again - but in the meantime, leave your words of support.”
Van Dijk suffered cruciate ligament damage in the tackle by Pickford, which could result in him missing the remainder of the season.
The tweet and the condolence page have since been taken down, however, after they prompted widespread mocking from rival fans.
“RIP VVD. Can’t believe you died playing football. Pickford should be in jail. This is truly heartbreaking. What a senseless waste of life,” wrote one fan, while a Manchester City supporter said: “I remember when everyone laughed at us for wearing [Ilkay] Gundogan shirts and now you're launching sites for people to send messages to Van Dijk as if he’s died.”
RIP VVD. Can’t believe you died playing football. Pickford should be in jail. This is truly heartbreaking. What a senseless waste of life— 🎃Athers🎃 (@AthersBFC) October 19, 2020
i remember when everyone laughed at us for wearing Gundogan shirts and now your launching sites for people to send messages to Van Dijk as if he’s died🤦🏻♂️— Josh🎃 (@SxrgioSZN) October 19, 2020
Virgil has passed away. RIP u will live on forever. Cant believe it. I wanna run to u. Really cant believe this. @ pic.twitter.com/6C2QmcwZXV— Football365 (@F365) October 20, 2020
At the notion of sending the Dutchman a message, another fan asked: “What next, clap for him every week at 8 p.m.?”
Others could scarcely believe the condolence book was set up in the first place.
“Have the Echo actually set up a book of condolence for VVD?!?” asked one, while another said: “Once again is it for real. The Echo opening a book of condolences for Van Dijk.”
“So the Liverpool Echo have now deleted their book of condolence for VVD,” added another. “Genuinely speechless on the grief perspective this had produced.”
Have the echo actually set up a book of condolence for VVD?!?— Ped 🇪🇺 (@PED7) October 19, 2020
There have also been some much less amusing responses on social media to aspects of the derby itself, which finished 2-2 at Goodison Park.
Police are investigating messages sent to Everton’s Pickford and Richarlison on social media after they were involved in some heated incidents in the game.
Death threats have been sent to the former after he injured Van Dijk, while the latter has received racist abuse after he was sent off late on for a poor challenge on Thiago Alcantara.
In a statement, Merseyside Police said: “The language used in the tweets is totally unacceptable and we are taking the reports extremely seriously.
“Those who use the internet to target others, and who commit criminal offences such as making threats or committing a hate crime in doing so, are not beyond the law.
“Detectives are making inquiries to identify the individuals who posted the tweets and where we identify offences we will take action to bring those responsible to justice.”Also on rt.com 'Corruption of the highest order!' Fury as FA confirm Pickford will face no retrospective action over VVD horror tackle
Pickford was fortunate to remain on the pitch when he brought down Van Dijk in the penalty area, but the FA have since confirmed that no retrospective action will be taken against him.
Everton twice came from behind through Michael Keane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, after Sadio Mane and then Mohamed Salah had fired them in front.