Gary Lineker hits back at James Cleverly over advice to LGBT football fans in Qatar

Gary Lineker questioned James Cleverly's suggestion that fans attending the World Cup should be 'respectful of the host nation'

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Gary Lineker has criticised Foreign Secretary James Cleverly after he suggested LGBT football fans attending the World Cup in Qatar should be “respectful of the host nation”.

Mr Cleverly urged fans to show “a little bit of flex and compromise” and to “respect the culture” of the host nation, where homosexuality remains a crime, prompting criticism from campaigners including Peter Tatchell.

Responding to his comments on Twitter, Lineker, 61, wrote: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything Gay. Is that the message?”

His comments came less than two weeks after the BBC found he had breached its impartiality rules over a tweet he made in February about the Conservative Party having “Russian donors”.

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker
James Cleverly
James Cleverly

Lineker 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?”

He also recently said he hoped a Premier League player comes out as gay during the World Cup to send a strong message to Qatar.

It comes after veteran campaigner Tatchell said he was arrested after staging a LGBT protest in the country to highlight its human rights abuses in the run-up to the sporting event.

Mr Cleverly said: “I haven’t spoken with the government of Qatar in direct response to Peter Tatchell, but my understanding is that he was questioned, that he was supported by the FCDO’s consular team.

“I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans going to watch the World Cup and how they will treat our fans and international fans.

“They want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves, and they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.

“One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation.

“They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup," he told LBC.