Footballer suffers anti-gay backlash over male kiss photo

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A footballer photographed kissing another man has suffered a homophobic backlash from supporters and rival fans.

Emerson Sheik plays for Corinthians Paulista in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

The image of the striker kissing a male friend was posted on the social media site Instagram and quickly drew an angry response from many.

But the 34-year-old has lashed back at his critics, telling reporters the abuse is “foolish” and “unnecessary.”

“Football is a very macho world,” reports he said. “I want to make it absolutely clear that I have not done anything to offend anyone. If someone felt otherwise, I’m sorry. This was Emerson the person, not Emerson the footballer.

“I’m very fond of Izac, which means a lot to me. His wife is nine months pregnant. The fans reacted in a negative way. They responded with prejudice.”

The picture was taken on Sunday night as Emerson, his girlfriend and some other friends went out for dinner. The other man in the image is the restaurant’s head chef Izac Azar.