Mesut Özil and a group of Arsenal stars are at the centre of the latest hippy crack controversy to hit English football.
A video released by The Sun on Thursday night shows Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Matteo Guendouzi using balloons apparently to inhale nitrous oxide — a legal high that can cause potentially dangerous side-effects — at a party in London a few days before the start of the season in August.
On what seems to be CCTV footage Ozil appears to fall semi-conscious after inhaling from a balloon, while Guendouzi appears to lose consciousness altogether during what is claimed to be a private party at the exclusive Tape Club in London’s West End.
Özil appears to offer a balloon to midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 29, who declines to take it.
German defender Shkodran Mustafi was also seen in the footage but was not filmed having any nitrous oxide, while defender Sead Kolasinac, 25, is another among those on camera.
Arsenal have today confirmed they will discuss the matter internally. Manager Unai Emery is likely to discuss the matter with the players this morning.
The club are then expected to hold talks with the players before deciding whether further disciplinary measures are required.
A club spokesman said, “The players will be spoken to about this and reminded of their responsibilities as representatives of the club.”
Arsenal lost the first two games of the Premier League campaign to “Big Six” rivals Manchester City and Chelsea.
Other Premier League players have found themselves the subject of such allegations in the past, with Raheem Sterling, Saido Berahino and Jack Grealish among them.
And while the risks from using what is also known as laughing gas from small canisters is generally considered to be low, football clubs are usually unhappy when their players are associated with images such as those published in The Sun on Thursday.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has said the drug “has the potential to cause harm to users, including death”, with nitrous oxide responsible for 17 fatalities between 2006 and 2012.
Arsenal were unavailable for comment on Thursday night but they have made a point in the past of reminding players of their responsibilities as professionals representing their club.
The wild party — to which 70 women were reportedly invited — took place just before the start of the season in August. The footballers are said to have racked up a bill of up to £30,000.
Although possession of laughing gas is not illegal, English law prohibits its sale to Under 18s if there is a chance they will inhale it.
Users risk falling unconscious or even dying from lack of oxygen. This happens when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide.