Arsenal transfer target Orkun Kokcu refuses to wear LGBTQ+ armband due to ‘religious beliefs’

Orkun Kokcu

Dutch football star Orkun Kokcu, a transfer target for Arsenal, has refused to wear an armband supporting the LGBTQ+ community because of his “religious beliefs”.

Kokcu, who plays as a midfielder for Dutch club Feyenoord, reportedly chose not to wear the captain’s armband supporting the LGBTQ+ community because it makes him feel “uncomfortable”,  reports The Mirror.

Teams in the Eredivisie – the highest level of professional football in the Netherlands – were encouraged to wear the OneLove armband over the weekend.

Kokcu refused, and teammate Gernot Trauner captained the team instead, agreeing to wear the inclusivity armband in the 3-1 win away victory over rivals Alkmaar.

‘Not the right person to support this’

Before the kick-off of Sunday’s (16 October) match, Kokcu said: “I have decided not to wear the rainbow captain’s armband this round.

“I think it’s important to emphasise that I respect everyone regardless of religion, background or preference. I believe that everyone is free to do what they want or feel. I fully understand the importance of this action, but because of my religious beliefs, I don’t feel the right person to support this.

“That’s why I don’t feel comfortable wearing this captain’s armband. I can imagine some people are disappointed with this. That is absolutely not my intention, although I realise that I may not immediately be able to take away that feeling with these words. But I hope that my choice for religious reasons will also be respected.”

Gernot Trauner

Gernot Trauner captained the team, wearing the OneLove armband (Getty Images)

During the match, which saw Kokcu’s side win 3-1, Kokcu scored a penalty and registered an assist during his team’s victory, potentially increasing interest from Arsenal, who are reportedly keen to sign the player.

Orkun Kokcu would reportedly cost Arsenal £50 million, also Real Madrid are also said to be interested.

The OneLove campaign comes ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as multiple advocates, fans and groups have voiced concerns over the country’s alarming track record on human rights, including its persecution of LGBTQ+ people.

OneLove armbands will be used to promote diversity, inclusion and anti-discrimination. The armbands feature a heart design with multiple stripes in various colours and will be worn by England captain Harry Kane during the World Cup in Qatar next month.

England’s captain, Kane said he’s “honoured” to join his fellow national team captains in supporting the “important OneLove campaign” and stand in solidarity against discrimination.

PinkNews has contacted Arsenal for comment, but it is yet to respond.