A statue of Michael Jackson has been removed from Manchester’s National Football Museum amid revived allegations of him sexually abusing children.
The documentary Leaving Neverland, which airs in two parts in the UK beginning tonight (March 6), is centred on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who allege that they were sexually abused as children by Jackson.
- Read: “More victims will come out” – ‘Leaving Neverland’ director Dan Reed on Michael Jackson’s toxic legacy
In response to the allegations, National Football Museum (NFM) has decided to take down a statue of the pop star that was commissioned by former Fulham FC chairman, Mohammed Al Fayed, after Jackson’s death in June 2009. The singer was a friend of Al Fayed but his only known link to the football club is a match that he attended in 1999 [via BBC News].
The NFM have said that the statue had been taken off display as part of “ongoing plans” to “better represent” football’s stories.
“Plans have been underway for a number of months to remove the Michael Jackson statue from display as part of our ongoing plans to better represent the stories we want to tell about football.
“As a result of this, the statue has now been removed.”
The news comes amid a backlash over broadcasters deciding to air the four-hour documentary, with demonstrators today (March 6) taking to streets in London in protest. Channel 4 reasserted its decision over the weekend to air Leaving Neverland tonight at 9pm and tomorrow (March 7) at the same time.
According to CNN, multiple major radio stations in New Zealand have stopped airing Jackson’s music including commercial broadcaster MediaWorks. Meanwhile, CBC reports that in Canada three major Montreal-based radio stations have pulled Jackson off air.
BBC Radio 2 was recently compelled to clarify to NME that it had not pulled Jackson’s songs from the station’s playlists. It followed what a BBC spokeswoman said was an “incorrect” report by The Times that that was the case.