Openly Gay Soccer Player Seized in Sweden for Deportation to Liberia, Where Gay Sex is Illegal

Andrew Nagbe now faces the possibility of deportation to his home country on August 23, where it is still illegal to be openly gay.

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Aug 20 2016, 2:51pm

Andrew Nagbe, a Liberian professional soccer player in Sweden. Photo from his Facebook page.

Liberian soccer player Andrew Nagbe was at a gay pride event in Stockholm with his boyfriend in late July, when Swedish migration officials seized and detained him for a failed residency application, according to The Scotsman. Nagbe now faces the possibility of deportation to his home country on August 23, where it is still illegal to participate in same-sex sexual activity.

"In prison I'll be beaten and raped every day until I am released and leave the country again," Nagbe told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter from detention. "Everyone I know in Liberia knows I am gay now, so they won't hold back."

Nagbe, 22, had been playing for a fourth-tier team in Södertälje, a town with a rich immigrant community, but originally came to Sweden while being recruited for a third-tier team before playing in lower leagues. Immigration issues for professional soccer players can make for tricky business, as their potential for residency is often tied with their potential for longevity with a team.

While Sweden is known for its progressive immigration and asylum policies, the Swedish migration service says that they cannot verify his claims to be gay, nor that his safety would be compromised if he returns home. Nagbe will have to present new evidence in order to appeal the ruling.

Nagbe added in his interview with Dagens Nyheter, "I want to play football and live as an openly gay man in Sweden."