Egyptian soccer legend Mohamed Aboutrika has never been one to hold back from delivering controversial opinions. Staying true to form, the 43-year-old retired soccer pro and former Al Ahly Sporting Club team member recently delivered a hateful, two-minute homophobic rant in his current role as a pundit on the Qatari television network beIN Sports, calling homosexuality "dangerous" and an affront to humanity.
"This phenomenon is not only against Muslim nature but it’s against human nature," Aboutrika said, according to a report in Deadline. "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."
The former soccer player’s ire was raised when queried about the UK Premier League’s recent Rainbow Laces campaign, where players have been encouraged to wear rainbow-colored socks or other accessories in an effort to stamp out homophobia in the sport.
"Such phenomenon does not fit our faith, and does not fit our religion," Aboutrika said.
Aboutrika went on to call homosexuality a "dangerous ideology that is becoming nasty," and that Muslim people of faith "have a role to play" in eradicating it. He also urged the network to refrain from airing the Rainbow Laces campaign as well as "anything LGBT-related" during its UK Premier League coverage.
Qatar will play host to the next World Cup, and many have aired their concerns about the country’s draconian anti-LGBTQ+ laws. Amnesty International has dubbed the upcoming tournament as "Qatar’s World Cup of Shame."
This isn't the first time Aboutrika has gone on the record in regards to some of his controversial opinions.
In a 2009 interview with BBC Arabic, the footballer took issues with women’s soccer leagues and "would not accept" his wife or daughters playing the sport due to his personal and religious beliefs that a woman’s place is in the home.
"The Koran clearly states: 'And stay in your homes,'" Aboutrika said at the time. "It is better for a woman to preserve her dignity and stay at home, where she has a special mission. There are certain activities that are her responsibility, in my view."
While Aboutrika also has a history of philanthropy, focusing his efforts on battling poverty and malnutrition in Africa, his alleged involvement with extremist elements opposed to Egypt’s current leadership has gotten him into serious trouble.
He is currently living in exile in Qatar’s capital city of Doha, having been banned from traveling back to Egypt for his alleged ties with funding of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Egypt considers a terrorist organization. He was added to Egypt's terrorism list in 2017 after having his assets seized in 2015, and earlier this year lost his last appeal to be removed from the list, meaning he is unable to return to his home country until 2023.
Aboutrika has reportedly been reprimanded and sanctioned in private for his recent comments about the LGBTQ+ community, and a spokesperson for beIN later attempted to distance itself from Aboutrika’s comments while not specifically condemning them.
"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 spokesman said.