Egyptian football pundit Aboutrika makes Premier League 'anti-gay' remark, divides fans

Egyptian football pundit Aboutrika makes Premier League 'anti-gay' remark, divides fans
The former footballer's comment that homosexuality 'doesn't fit' with Islam has sparked fury in the West and solidarity in the East.
3 min read
01 December, 2021
Some twitter users accused beIN of amplifying homophobia following Aboutrika's remarks on the live broadcast [Getty]

Former Egyptian footballer Mohamed Aboutrika has drawn both backlash and support after making 'anti-gay' remarks focused on the English Premier League during a live broadcast on Arab sports channel beIN Sports.

Aboutrika, one of the sports station's best-known pundits, criticised the Premier League's Rainbow Laces campaign - where Premier League players wear rainbow-coloured shoelaces in support of the LGBT+ community.

The 43-year-old, who was placed on Egypt's terror list for allegedly supporting and funding the Muslim Brotherhood, referred to homosexuality as a "phenomenon... [that goes] not only against Islam's nature but against human nature" on the Doha-based channel and called for Muslim players to boycott the campaign less than a year before Qatar is due to host the World Cup.

“We need to educate young kids…such a phenomenon [homosexuality] doesn’t fit our faith and religion... people should pay attention and be careful, sports enters every home now,” the ex-footballer said.

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Some Twitter users accused him of using beIN to amplify homophobia.

Others expressed concern that Aboutrika's comments would affect the Arab LGBT+ community.

However, many on the platform defended the pundit using the Arabic hashtag #we_support_abotreka, asking why his "freedom of opinion" is being opposed. Polls in the Middle East have consistently showed overwhelming opposition to gay rights across the region, though in varying degrees depending on which country the polls are held.

Many fans, who appeared to be from the Middle East, also stated Aboutrika's that comments were a true reflection of his society and their religious beliefs.

BeIN was quick to respond to the criticism, stressing its support for people of different backgrounds.

“As a global media group we represent, champion and support people, causes and interests of every single background, language and cultural heritage across 43 hugely diverse countries, as we show every day,” said a beIN spokesperson in response to the criticism, according to The Guardian.

Nasser Al-Khater, the chief executive of the Qatar 2022 World Cup's organising committee, also emphasised on Tuesday that members of the LGBTQ+ community will be welcome at next year's tournament.

“Everyone is welcome... public display of affection is frowned upon, and that goes across the board... Qatar is a modest country... Other than that, everyone is free to live their life," Al-Khater told CNN.