Kyle Lafferty has been pulled from Northern Ireland’s squad for Nations League matches this week after a video emerged on social media of the striker making an alleged sectarian statement.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed last night that the 35-year-old was suspended by the Irish Football Association on Friday morning ahead of Saturday’s clash with Kosovo at Windsor Park.
In a statement, the Irish Football Association said: “Northern Ireland’s first-team player Kyle Lafferty has been withdrawn from the squad ahead of the upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Kosovo and Greece.
“The Irish Football Association is aware of a video clip on social media that has been widely circulated. The association also indicated that an investigation into the video has been opened by striker Kilmarnock FC.
“A slight back problem has prevented Lafferty from training since Tuesday.”
The footage posted online, which has been widely circulated, shows a man walking up to Lafferty at a bar and appearing to order a picture that the former Rangers man is happily posing.
When the “fan” moves away, he appears to say “Up the Celts” directly at Lafferty who initially turns his head before responding with a sectarian and insulting comment.
A source from the Irish Football Association told the Belfast Telegraph: “It’s a whole bunch, but you can’t respond with that kind of language. It’s awful.”
It is understood that Lafferty met with manager Baraklough Thursday night to discuss his actions in the video.
Lafferty is Northern Ireland’s second-best scorer with 20 goals in 85 matches although the last time he scored for his country was in 2016.
He signed a new one-year contract with Kilmarnock in May.