A football referee in Turkey has claimed he was dismissed by the game’s governing body for being gay.

Halil Ibrahim Dincdag has been refereeing for 13 years and his defence of his sexuality on a popular sports TV programme has divided opinion.

Mr Dincdag, 33, said that 80% of his fellow referees had rung him to express support.

“For years, the European Union has been talking about the importance of legislation on sexual discrimination in the workplace,” Ali Erol, a spokesman for KAOS-GL, an Ankara-based gay and lesbian rights group, told the Irish Times.

“So far, Turkey has not taken one step forward.”

TV pundit Erman Toroglu did not support the concept of gay referees, as he thinks they have a “tendency” to give more penalties to good-looking, tough footballers.