Gary Lineker says he knows two gay Premier League stars and hopes they will come out at Qatar World Cup | UK News

Gary Lineker has claimed he knows two gay Premier League footballers and said it would be “amazing” if they chose to come out during the Qatar World Cup to send a strong message to the host nation, where homosexuality remains a crime.

The former England striker and TV presenter told the Daily Mirror the players had been “very close” to coming out before now.

“It would be great if one or two of them came out during the World Cup. It would be amazing,” he said.

“I know for a fact that some have been very close and contemplated it. There’s a couple I know, but obviously it’s not for me to say who they are.”

The tournament kicks off on 20 November in Qatar – a nation where same-sex sexual activity is punishable by seven years in jail, or even death by stoning for Muslim men under Sharia law.

On Thursday, Qatar’s World Cup chief Nasser Al Khater sought to give assurances to LGBTQ+ fans that they would be welcomed at the tournament

While Qatar is not prepared to change anti-LGBTQ+ laws to respond to concerns of visiting fans, he has insisted none will be discriminated against during the 29-day tournament and that gay fans will be allowed to hold hands.

“All we ask is for people to be respectful of the culture,” Mr Al Khater said.

“At the end of the day, as long as you don’t do anything that harms other people, if you’re not destroying public property, as long as you’re behaving in a way that’s not harmful, then everybody’s welcome and you have nothing to worry about.”

Although Mr Al Khater has said fans can display rainbow flags, he said “it’s a FIFA matter” whether approval is given for Harry Kane, the England captain, and Gareth Bale, his Welsh counterpart, to wear multicoloured “One Love” armbands that highlight discrimination.

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Gay world cup fans ‘can hold hands’

Lineker’s comments come after he was found to have breached BBC impartiality rules over a remark he made about the Conservative Party having Russian donors.

The Match of the Day presenter shared an article about Liz Truss, then foreign secretary, urging Premier League teams to boycott the Champions League final in Russia, with the comment: “And her party will hand back their donations from Russian donors?”

The former footballer said his tweet was prompted by an article on football, and it was intended as a comment on the sport rather than on politics.

However, the BBC said it has upheld a reader complaint made about his tweet from 23 February, and that the finding has been reported to the management of BBC Sport and discussed with Lineker.