Former Egypt international Mohamed Aboutrika has described homosexuality as a “dangerous ideology” amid an English Premier League initiative championing LGBTQ+ inclusion.
The Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign is supported by all clubs in the league and sees rainbow-themed branding, armbands, laces and badges displayed at matches taking place between November 27 and December 2.
Speaking about the campaign as a pundit on beIN Sports at the weekend, Aboutrika – widely considered one of Egypt’s greatest footballers – said homosexuality “is not compatible with Islam.”
BeIN Sports, which has a large viewership across the Middle East, has a TV rights deal with the Premier League to broadcast matches.
“Our role is to stand up to this phenomenon, homosexuality, because it’s a dangerous ideology and it’s becoming nasty and people are not ashamed of it anymore,” added Aboutrika.
“They (the Premier League) will tell you that homosexuality is human rights. No, it is not human rights; in fact, it’s against humanity.”
He also called on beIN Sports to “avoid everything LGBT-related during Premier League broadcasts.”
In a statement, a beIN Media Group spokesperson said: “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.”
BeIN did not respond to CNN’s question about whether Aboutrika would be reprimanded for his comments.
“We wholeheartedly disagree with the pundit’s views,” said a Premier League spokesperson. “The Premier League and its clubs are committed to supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion and making clear football is for everyone.”
“So disappointing to see Egyptian legend Mohamed Aboutrika dismissing the @premierleague #RainbowLace campaign and using theological positions to do so,” said a tweet from Fare, an anti-discrimination organization in football.
The 43-year-old Aboutrika, who retired from football in 2013, played more than 100 times for Egypt.
He lives in exile in Qatar; earlier this year, a court in his home country of Egypt denied his appeal against being included on a list of alleged Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. He had endorsed the candidacy of Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood, who became president in 2012, before the Egyptian military ousted Morsy. Aboutrika denies allegations that he financed the Brotherhood.