An Arsenal soccer player hopes to prevent one dinosaur from going extinct.
Jerry Quy, who played the team's mascot Gunnersaurus for 27 years, was one of 55 staff members who were told they lost their jobs, according to The Athletic. The club made the move as it faces steep revenue losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"There will be 30 and 40-year-old fans who have grown up with that dinosaur," Gunners legend Paul Merson told Sky Sports. "It's disappointing, I think it's poor by Arsenal, I really do."
But Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil stepped in and offered to pay Quy's salary.
"I was so sad that Jerry Quy aka our famous & loyal mascot @Gunnersaurus and integral part of our club was being made redundant after 27 years," Özil tweeted Tuesday.
"As such, I'm offering to reimburse @Arsenal with the full salary of our big green guy as long as I will be an Arsenal player," he wrote.
An Arsenal spokesman declined to say whether the team would accept Özil's offer, stating that the team does not comment on personnel matters, according to The New York Times.
"Gunnersaurus is not extinct and will return to action when fans are allowed back at matches," the spokesperson added.
Fans also created an online fundraiser in an attempt to save the mascot. It has so far received over £11,500, which equals over $14,800.
Even though he is one of the team's best-paid players, Özil has not played a game since the Premier League resumed in June.
His contract is set to expire in 2021.
Some Arsenal players and the head coach already took a 12.5% pay reduction in April to help keep staff employed. Özil, who earns £350,000 per week, was the only player to publicly say he had not taken a cut, according to The Athletic.
"The pandemic represents one of the most challenging periods in our 134-year history," read an August statement signed by the club's leadership. "We know this is upsetting and difficult for our dedicated staff and our focus is on managing this as sensitively as possible."
Reese Oxner is an intern on NPR's News Desk.
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