The ITV breakfast show 'Good Morning Britain' has come under fire after inviting contentious ex-footballer John Fashanu as a guest on the show to discuss the plight of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar.
The persecution of the community in the Gulf state has been one of the most discussed topics during a controversial World Cup, with Roy Keane among those to speak out strongly against FIFA's decision to bring the World Cup to the country in the first place.
In Qatar, sex between men and other men, or between women and other women, is a criminal offence, while sex between two Muslim men is punishable with death by stoning - though there is little evidence of this law having been enforced.
The pushback against teams wearing the 'OneLove' armbands in support of the LGBTQ+ community has only soured the atmosphere around this World Cup, and it was a topic of discussion on 'Good Morning Britain' (GMB) on Thursday.
Ex-footballer John Fashanu was part of the panel for the discussion on Qatar - but his appearance was criticised by viewers, given his previous relationship with his brother Justin Fashanu - the last top level footballer to publicly come out as gay in the UK.
John Fashanu makes controversial appearance on discussion of LGBTQ+ rights
John Fashanu was the brother of Justin Fashanu - to date, the most recent openly 'out' footballer in the UK.
In the aftermath of Justin's coming out, his brother John made a series of comments stating that his brother was an "outcast", and publicly shunning Justin.
Justin Fashanu died by suicide in 1998 and, in the immediate years after his death, John expressed remorse for his response to the news of Justin's sexual identity. In 2012, however, he made contentious remarks to talkSPORT when he stated that his brother was not gay, but was in fact an "attention seeker."
The previous remarks by Justin Fashanu in relation to his own brother made him a contentious choice to appear on the 'Good Morning Britain' panel discussion on LGBTQ+ rights. Fashanu gave a contrary view to what many pundits have said in the leadup to the tournament, suggesting that visiting fans should simply adhere to the situation in Qatar.
'Whatever the rules and regulations are of that country, adhere to them. Some of them might be good, some of them might be bad but respect the country'
Former England player, John Fashanu believes politics and football should remain separate pic.twitter.com/zZK9P8JozW
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) November 24, 2022
Speaking on the subject of the 'OneLove' armbands being banned at the World Cup, Fashanu said:
'OneLove' armbands...what has that got to do with football? How did that merge into the world of football?
This is what we've been saying from the beginning - 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. I'm very disappointed.
We've said it time and time again - if they're going to award Qatar this wonderful opportunity for football, you would like to think that everybody would adhere to the rules and regulations of the country. It's simple.
I think that whatever the rules and regulations are of that country, whatever they may be - adhere to them. Some of them might be good, some of them might be bad. But respect the country and say 'okay, that's fine, I can't do this, I can't do that.'
The appearance of Fashanu was contentious enough, but his comments only led to more backlash against the decision to invite him on to the show to discuss such a sensitive topic. His description of LGBTQ+ activism as "political" was particularly disappointing.
Journalists and football fans alike spoke out against GMB's decision to invite Fashanu onto the show, with his historical relationship with brother Justin cited as a key reason that he was not a suitable choice of guest.
Absolutely zero idea why the bloke who tried to pay his own brother £75k to not come out and did an interview with the headline “My Gay Brother is an Outcast” is being invited on telly to represent LGBT people. https://t.co/I3KWxsaPSI
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) November 24, 2022
For the uninitiated: John Fashanu disowned his brother Justin Fashanu for coming out as gay, and his brother later killed himself. In 2012, John Fashanu claimed his brother was not gay and was said he was an attention seeker.
— Benjamin Butterworth (@benjaminbutter) November 24, 2022
I think they knew exactly what they were doing. Generates outrage, which means clicks and shares and people talking about GMB. All about the attention economy.
— Chris Schilling (100% Unofficial!) (@schillingc) November 24, 2022
After the way he treated his own brother, I’ve no idea why he’s even been asked for his opinion
— hannah miles (@hannahsunited) November 24, 2022
I am sure Justin would have been proud of you!
— Neil Parker (@Ubrennah) November 24, 2022
The decision to platform John Fashanu despite his harmful past behaviour and comments is certainly a disappointing one, and has done nothing to aid any potential positive developments in the discussion of LGBTQ+ rights surrounding the World Cup.