Ex-striker John Fashanu whose gay brother took his own life says footballers should NOT wear the OneLove armband at World Cup because making a protest is ‘culturally inappropriate’ and teams must ‘adhere to rules and regulations’ of Qatar

  • Ex-England striker John Fashanu said football and politics should be separate
  • He asked: ‘OneLove armband – what has that got to do with football?’
  • His comments on Good Morning Britain have caused debate on social media
  • Fashanu’s brother Justin killed himself just eight years after coming out publicly
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

Former England striker John Fashanu has said footballers should not have even threatened to wear the OneLove armband because making a protest at the World Cup is ‘culturally inappropriate’. 

The ex-footballer said people should adhere to the rules of host country Qatar even if they are ‘bad’ and said football and politics should be kept separate. 

Joining Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain, Fashanu argued: ‘OneLove armband – what has that got to do with football? How did that merge into the world of football?

‘Politics and football, we try and keep them away from each other because if politics goes into football – which is what is happening – the politics go up and up and up and eventually they will win. So I’m just very disappointed.’

The OneLove band contains the rainbow colours associated with the Pride flag and had been set to be a strong statement in Qatar where homosexuality is illegal, before the symbol was banned. 

Asked by presenter Susanna Reid ‘so you don’t think that the FA’s should have even threatened to wear these armbands in the first place?’ Fashanu, whose brother Justin killed himself just eight years after coming out publicly, said: ‘I don’t think they should have even threatened – because I just don’t think it’s got anything to do with football.’

He added: ‘We’ve said it time and time again, if they’re going to award Qatar the opportunity to have this wonderful opportunity for football, you would like to think that everybody would adhere to the rules and regulations of the country, simple.’

Ex-footballer John Fashanu appeared on Good Morning Britain to talk about the World Cup

Fashanu argued: ‘OneLove armband – what has that got to do with football? How did that merge into the world of football?’

Susanna then started to ask ‘you think it’s culturally inappropriate to be making a protest –’ before Fashanu interrupted with ‘very inappropriate’.

When Susanna continued her sentence and said ‘-about homophobia,’ Fashanu replied: ‘No. I think that whatever the rules and regulations are of that country, whatever they might be, adhere to them.

‘Some of them might be good, some of them might be bad. But respect the country and say OK that’s fine, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, that’s fine.’ 

Many have hit out at the former England player for his comments, with actress Denise Welch wading in and tweeting: ‘I am horrified at these remarks by John Fashinu!!! His own brother killed himself because of issues around being gay and unaccepted!!’ 

One critic tweeted: ‘Quite an extraordinary assertion. I don’t think anyone is suggesting people shouldn’t respect cultural difference. But we can’t suggest the threat of persecution or execution for basic human rights is something we should ignore. It’s almost comical at this point.’

Another said: ‘It’s the idea that persecution of minorities is a ‘cultural difference’ for me. It’s all over the place, and it implies that the human rights of gay people are constructs, graciously granted by cultures, rather than basic, inherent human rights that are being cruelly taken away.’

An outraged viewer wrote: ‘John Fashanu standing up for the Qatari government after his own brother committed suicide due to homophobic bullying is probably, in a crowded field, the most disgusting thing you will see today.’

But some agreed with Fashanu, one who said: ‘Politics in football is always a bad idea at this level, he’s at least right once the decision was made to play in Qatar that people should be respecting the laws and culture of that country that they’re in rather than forcing their own agendas.’

The former footballer said people should not mix football and politics  

Many hit out at Fashanu’s comments, with Denise Welch saying she was ‘horrified’ 

Fashanu’s comments this morning come after he last month called on England’s World Cup squad and fans to take the knee in Qatar in a stand against homophobia and racism.

Two-time England international 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, he would take the knee to show he was against ‘all forms of discrimination’.

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 Fashanu earlier called on England’s World Cup squad to take the knee in Qatar 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  

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 add: ‘LGBT people must be able to be who they are, but they must also respect the laws of the country they are guests in.’ 

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