Michael Jackson statue taken down from museum after sex abuse claims
A statue of Michael Jackson has been removed from Britain's National Football Museum in the wake of fresh allegations of sexual abuse that continue to surround the pop superstar's legacy.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck accused Jackson of sexually abusing them over a period of several years when they were children in a four-hour documentary "Leaving Neverland," the first part of which aired in the UK on Wednesday.
Jackson's family has pushed back against the film, calling it a "public lynching." The musician's estate is suing HBO, which co-produced the documentary. HBO shares its parent company, WarnerMedia, with CNN.
The soccer museum in Manchester, England, has displayed the statue since 2014 but removed it from display this week.
The plaster and resin artwork was initially unveiled in 2011 at Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium by the club's then-owner Mohamed Al Fayed, who was friends with the singer. Jackson visited the west London ground as a guest of Al Fayed in 1999, watching Fulham play a second-tier match against Wigan Athletic.
But the monument was roundly mocked by fans and was removed by the club's current owner Shahid Khan, who also owns NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, when he took over in 2013. It was subsequently replaced with a statue of former Fulham player George Cohen.
A spokeswoman for the museum said: "The National Football Museum has made a number of changes to its exhibitions and the objects on display over the last few months.
"As part of our ongoing plans to better represent the stories we want to tell, we have made a decision to remove the Michael Jackson statue from display."
Although the museum did not explicitly connect the statue's removal to allegations against the singer, the fallout from "Leaving Neverland" has led to some fans boycotting the singer and has prompted radio stations in Canada and New Zealand to stop playing his music.
Fans of Jackson, who died in 2009, protested outside the London headquarters of UK broadcaster Channel 4, which aired the first part of the documentary on Wednesday.
The film details disturbing claims that Jackson groomed and molested Robson and Safechuck for several years.
Robson, now 36, first met Jackson when he was about five years old in his native Australia. He said he stayed with Jackson at his Neverland Ranch in California on several occasions.