Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is taking heat because of a group photo taken this weekend that appears to show him doing a Nazi salute in the background. More ridiculous than the logic used to try that gesture for a picture is Hennessey’s explanation for why it’s actually just a coincidence.
The Instagram photo, first brought to light by soccer writer Daniel Storey, shows the entire Crystal Palace team, fresh from Saturday’s thrilling 1-0 FA Cup win against Grimsby, not doing the Nazi salute. Well, all of them except Hennessey, that is. There’s former Liverpool center back Mamadou Sakho in the front right, decidedly not Heiling Hitler, as well as Christian Benteke, who definitely received the “don’t do the Nazi salute” memo.
The photo immediately spread through the usual British tabloids, but Hennessey says that he was absolutely not making the gesture, and in fact was just trying to get the photographer’s attention:
Who among us hasn’t inadvertently done the Nazi salute while trying to make our voices carry? Especially those of us whose jobs demand that we make our voices carry on a regular basis. Surely, yelling down the length of a 10-person table was too much for Hennessey’s voice to carry without the aid of his hand. It’s not like he has to yell inside of packed soccer stadiums every single week.
Crystal Palace fans aren’t taking this controversy laying down, instead trying to find ways to exonerate their number one. A Palace season ticket holder noticed that Hennessey has used this same gesture on the field before to, presumably, make his voice carry:
As it turns out, goalies do this a lot while directing traffic from their own penalty area:
Does that necessarily explain why Hennessey was doing it at a table full of people who weren’t cheering loudly? Not really. Could it be muscle memory that made him replicate his form at dinner? Probably not. Is it likely that this was a shitty joke gesture and now Hennessey is trying to backtrack once the backlash started? Well, it’s not like soccer players would ever do something offensive without understanding the incoming backlash.