Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg moved to Egypt last summer when he was appointed head of a referee development committee meant to boost the quality of officiating in the North African country’s pro soccer league.
But now, he’s fleeing due to apparently false rumors about his sexuality.
The president of one of Egypt’s top soccer teams, Zamalek Sporting Club, started a rumor that Clattenburg left his wife and started a gay romance, reports the U.K.’s Daily Star.
The executive in question, Mortada Mansour, has been one of Clattenburg’s harshest critics since his move, the Daily Star says.
Since the allegations were made, Clattenburg has been on the receiving end of widespread abuse and mistreatment.
Same-sex activity is prohibited under Egypt’s penal code, and security officials have been known to torture and abuse LGBTQ people.
In addition to personal attacks, Clattenburg has reportedly suffered professional retribution. The Sun, another British tabloid, says he hasn’t been paid for two months.
The Egyptian Football Association apparently plans to hold an emergency meeting about the matter.
Clatternburg left the Premier League in 2017 to work as the head of refereeing in Saudi Arabia. He’s also lived in Greece and China.
This is a bizarre story. We will update when more information becomes available.