Zander Murray slams FIFA's crackdown on armbands

‘I know for a fact there are gay players at the World Cup’: Scotland’s only openly gay footballer Zander Murray calls ban on OneLove armbands a ‘direct attack’ on LGBTQ+ community

  • Zander Murray has branded FIFA’s crackdown on armbands as a ‘direct attack’
  • The striker, 31, hit out at governing body’s ‘sanctions’ against the players  
  • Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he expressed worry for LGBT people in Qatar

Scotland’s first openly gay footballer has slammed FIFA’s crackdown on OneLove armbands as a ‘direct attack’ on the LGBTQ+ community.

Zander Murray voiced his disappointment with the governing body’s ‘sanctions’ and insisted that ‘you really can’t attack the players here’ after the threat of a yellow card proved too much of a risk for the FA.

‘If you get a yellow card, a couple of games and that’s you banned,’ he told Good Morning Britain today. 

The sports star, 31, also expressed his worry for LGBTQ+ individuals in Qatar – where the World Cup is currently taking place. 

The sports star (pictured in September) also expressed his worry for LGBTQ+ individuals in Qatar – where the World Cup is currently taking place

Zander Murray (pictured) voiced his disappointment with the governing body’s ‘sanctions’ and insisted that ‘you really can’t attack the players here’

‘There will be gay players in the World Cup…in fact, I know for a fact there is,’ he added. ‘Them having to hide their identity, hide who they truly are…hurts me to the core.’

The striker for Gala Fairydean Rovers also condemned earlier comments from a Qatar World Cup ambassador, who this month told German television broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’, branding them ‘disgraceful’.

‘I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it,’ Zander admitted. ‘I just automatically thought of…imagine being an LGBTQ+ Qatari, being in Qatar, hearing that message. Being a young footballer hearing that message. I mean, it would break your heart.’

‘You see from other fans wearing rainbow hats…and they’re not allowed into stadiums, it’s just baffling,’ he added. 

The footballer also spoke to Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley (pictured) about his ‘difficult journey’ to coming out earlier this year

Zander explained that he also wanted to help enact change and be a ‘pillar of this really, really strong community’ which could support current players

The footballer also spoke candidly about his ‘difficult journey’ to coming out earlier this year, citing fellow footballers Jake Daniels and Josh Cavallo as inspirations – and revealed he now feels ‘incredible’.

He told Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley: ‘A big reason of why I wanted to do it was to share my message and try to inspire younger generations.’

Zander explained that he also wanted to help enact change and be a ‘pillar of this really, really strong community’ which could support current players.

‘I know how difficult it is,’ he added.

The striker for Gala Fairydean Rovers (pictured in September) also condemned earlier comments from a Qatar World Cup ambassador

Zander listed fear of backlash and ‘internalised homophobia’ as reasons he didn’t come out earlier, admitting he would have done so ‘years earlier’ if he wasn’t a footballer. 

‘Certainly from the UK…that’s all been in my head,’ he revealed. ‘There’s not been much  trolls, if you like.

‘But within that, you ultimately need to work on yourself, to truly accept yourself, to deal with these horrible insults and slurs, which takes a bit of time.’

It comes as, earlier the FA’s decision to ask Harry Kane not to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband for England’s World Cup opener was branded spineless.

The armband is a show of solidarity for the LGBT+ community and the team captain has said he wanted to wear it at kick-off. Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar.

It comes as, earlier the FA’s decision to ask Harry Kane (pictured yesterday) not to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband for England’s World Cup opener was branded spineless

But FIFA has strict rules about apparel that can be worn by players and the armband is not allowed under the code. 

It meant Harry could have faced an immediate booking yesterday if he walked out wearing the ‘OneLove’ band.

If he wore it again in their second match, the captain could have been slapped with another yellow, automatically banning him from the third game.

In a statement the Football Association said: ‘We have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armband in FIFA World Cup games.

‘We cannot put our players in a situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.’

Minutes after the announcement was made ‘spineless’ began trending on Twitter. One fan said: ‘The FA should not buckle under the pressure.’

Another said:  ‘Predictably it’s the spineless FA that have withered at the fist sign of resistance.’

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