A former top-flight footballer is calling on England’s World Cup squad and fans to take the knee in Qatar next month in a stand against homophobia and racism.
Two-time England international John Fashanu told the Sunday Mirror that he ‘shunned’ his late brother Justin – who was the first professional footballer to come out as gay.
Same-sex acts are punishable by up to seven years in jail in Qatar, but Fashanu said gay fans should be allowed to be themselves at the tournament.
The 60-year-old suffered from rampant racism during his career and said if he was attending the tournament, which kicks off next month, he would take the knee to show he was against ‘all forms of discrimination’.
The ex-Wimbeldon striker’s message comes after the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told gay football fans they should show ‘flex and compromise’ while in Qatar.
John Fashanu is calling on England’s World Cup squad to take the knee in Qatar next month in a stand against homophobia and racism
John (top) admitted that he shunned his brother Justin (bottom) due to his sexuality – even paying him not to come out
Same-sex acts are punishable by up to seven years in jail in Qatar, but Fashanu said gay fans should be allowed to be themselves at the tournament
John’s brother Justin (pictured) was the first professional footballer to come out as gay
In 1998 Justin (right) killed himself when he was 37 – just eight years after coming out publicly
Former England footballer who is planning to come out as gay has slammed FIFA’s decision to host the World Cup in Qatar
A former England footballer who is planning to come out as gay has criticised FIFA‘s decision to host the World Cup in Qatar.
It has been revealed that the star may talk about his sexuality live on television.
He thinks that Qatar’s anti-LGBT stance should have meant that FIFA did not make the call to hold the World Cup there. The tournament kicks off in November.
A source told The Sun: ‘He thinks it was wrong to decide the tournament should be played in Qatar when they criminalise homosexual relationships.
‘Obviously England will be taking part but he doesn’t blame them. He’s heartened to see the current squad of players will support the LGBTQ movement and captain Harry Kane will wear the OneLove rainbow armband.’
The unnamed former footballer is also hoping for protests against Qatar’s militant view on homosexuality, according to the source.
It comes after Gary Lineker earlier this month said that two gay Premier League footballers were considering coming out during the tournament.
He said that if they were to announce their sexuality, it would send a ‘strong message’ to Qatar.
Same-sex relationships are illegal in Qatar due to its strict Islamic rulers.
It has also emerged that Amnesty International has urged Fifa to pay at least £350 million of compensation to Qatar stadium workers for the ‘human rights abuses’ they have been subjected to.
Fashanu’s brother Justin was the first Black player to sell for £1million but his career was marred by homophobia – once being berated by legendary manager Brian Clough.
In 1998 Justin killed himself in a lock-up garage in London’s Shoreditch, when he was just 37 – just eight years after coming out publicly.
John told The Mirror that he once paid his brother £75,000 to keep quiet to save the family embarrassment.
In 1985 the two brothers were on Brighton beach, when they dug a hole on the beach and Justin told his younger brother to lie in it while he piled sand back on top.
Fashanu told The Mirror: ‘He started piling on sand until only my head was poking out. It hurt. I was struggling to breathe. Then he just left me there. When he finally came back I was in tears. He said, ‘Now you know what it feels like to be me every single day.’
John said ‘for the first time’ he was able to understand what his brother had to endure as a gay and black footballer.
He said this experience has made him believe that Qataris could learn more about the LGBT community and that the World Cup should be ‘an opportunity to educate’.
Although the ex-footballer did agree with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and added that: ‘LGBT people must be able to be who they are, but they must also respect the laws of the country they are guests in.’
Gary Lineker also led a backlash after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told gay football supporters to be ‘respectful’ of World Cup host Qatar.
As well as homosexual behaviour being illegal, there are strict laws on alcohol, drugs, public intimacy, relationships outside marriage, dress codes and swearing.
Veteran campaigner Peter Tatchell was stopped from staging the first ever LGBT+ protest in the country.
Mr Cleverly said Qatari authorities know they will have to make ‘some compromises’ when football fans from across the globe begin arriving next month.
But he also urged LGBT+ fans to ‘flex and compromise’ in comments that were promptly branded ‘shockingly tone deaf’ by Labour.
John Fashanu said that ‘LGBT people must be able to be who they are, but they must also respect the laws of the country they are guests in’
Lineker, who is expected to front the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup, queried Mr Cleverly’s remarks.
He posted on Twitter: ‘Whatever you do, don’t do anything gay. Is that the message?
Mr Tatchell, who claimed he was arrested by Qatari authorities after his attempted protest, also hit back at the Foreign Secretary’s comments.
He demanded the Government ‘use its public voice to condemn the appalling human rights abuses’ of the Gulf state.
As well as his comments about gay football supporters, the Foreign Secretary – who was yesterday re-appointed to the role during new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet reshuffle – took a swipe at Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
Sir Keir this week said he would not travel to Qatar for the World Cup, even if England reached the final.
But Mr Cleverly revealed he would go to the Middle East if he’s able to.
‘As Leader of the Opposition, he’s in a lovely position to send messages. I’ve got real work to do,’ the Foreign Secretary said of Sir Keir, during an interview with LBC Radio.