Kyle Lafferty has been axed from Northern Ireland’s squad for their Nations League fixtures against Kosovo and Greece after a video emerged which appeared to show the Kilmarnock striker using sectarian language.
The video, which has appeared on social media, shows Lafferty reacting when a man posing for a photo with him says “Up the Celts”.
A statement from the Irish Football Association read: “Northern Ireland senior men’s team player Kyle Lafferty has been withdrawn from the squad ahead of the upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Kosovo and Greece.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.”
Lafferty, who has 20 goals in 89 appearances for Northern Ireland, is his country’s second-highest scorer, but the 35-year-old has been in and out of Ian Baraclough’s squad in recent windows and may now face a battle to return to the international ranks.
Northern Ireland will face Kosovo at Windsor Park on Saturday before travelling to Athens for Tuesday’s fixture against Greece. Lafferty had not trained since Tuesday due to a back complaint.
The video first emerged on Wednesday evening, with Lafferty’s club Kilmarnock announcing on Thursday lunchtime they had launched an investigation into the incident.
Kilmarnock’s statement said: “Kilmarnock Football Club are aware of a video circulating online which appears to show a member of our playing staff using language of a sectarian nature.
“The club finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour completely unacceptable. The matter will be investigated by the club.”