Kyle Lafferty has been withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for this week’s Nations League games after a video emerged on social media of the striker appearing to make an alleged sectarian remark.
s revealed by the Belfast Telegraph last night, the Irish FA axed the 35-year-old on Friday morning ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash with Kosovo at Windsor Park.
In a statement, the Irish FA said: “Northern Ireland senior men’s team player Kyle Lafferty has been withdrawn from the squad ahead of the upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Kosovo and Greece.
“The Irish Football Association is aware of a social media video which has been circulated widely. The association also notes an investigation has been launched into the video by the striker’s club, Kilmarnock FC.
“A minor back problem prevented Lafferty from participating in training since Tuesday.”
Footage posted online, which has been widely circulated, shows a man going up to Lafferty in a bar and appearing to ask for a photograph which the former Rangers man happily poses for.
As the ‘fan’ moves away he appears to say “Up the Celts” directly at Lafferty who initially turns his head before responding with an alleged sectarian and derogatory comment.
An Irish FA source told the Belfast Telegraph: “It is a complete set-up, but you can’t respond with that type of language. It is appalling.”
It is understood Lafferty met manager Baraclough on Thursday night to discuss his actions in the video.
Lafferty is Northern Ireland’s second highest male goalscorer having netted 20 goals in 85 appearances although the last time he found the net for his country was in 2016.
He signed a new one-year deal with Kilmarnock in May.