A former Egyptian footballer has described homosexuality as being “against humanity” and a “dangerous ideology that is becoming nasty” during a rant on Qatari network beIN Sports.
Mohamed Aboutrika, who played 100 times for Egypt from 2001 to 2013, was responding to a question last weekend on the UK Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which has seen the likes of fellow Egyptian Muslim and Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah take part in a bid to stamp out homophobia in football.
During the two-minute rant, Aboutrika issued a string of slurs against homosexuality.
“This phenomenon is not only against Muslim nature but it’s against human nature,” he said. “Allah says in the Quran that we have to honor the children of Adam but by doing this homosexuality we are not honoring humans, we are humiliating them.”
BeIN acknowledged the comments, which were made in Arabic and translated online, but did not publicly condemn them or the presenter. Deadline understands Aboutrika will continue to feature on the channel, although he is said to have been privately reprimanded and sanctioned. Bloomberg, along with a number of Middle Eastern commentators on Twitter, confirmed that the comments had been translated accurately.
Muslim people “have a role to play” to eliminate homosexuality, added Aboutrika, who also described it as a “dangerous ideology that is becoming nasty”. “They will tell you it’s a human rights but it’s not a human right, in fact it’s against humanity.”
Aboutrika urged beIN to refuse to show “anything LGBT-related” during its coverage of Premier League games, including the Rainbow Laces campaign. He was met with little pushback by the presenter.
The charged rant comes a year before Qatar is due to host football’s World Cup. The Middle Eastern nation’s human rights record has been firmly under the spotlight in recent years and the deaths of migrant workers building stadiums has been covered extensively, with Amnesty International referring to the tournament as “Qatar’s World Cup of Shame.”
BeIN Sports is the dominant television sports channel in the Middle East region. It also operates channels in France, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
BeIN Sports owner beIN Media Group, which part owns US giant Miramax, counts Nasser Al-Khelaifi as Chairman and Yousef Al-Obaidly as CEO, who are also President/CEO and board members respectively of French football club Paris Saint Germain.
A beIN spokesman 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.”
The network will continue to promote the Rainbow Laces campaign alongside other initiatives supporting homosexual and other under-represented talent.
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