Khabib Nurmagomedov was in Qatar for the World Cup final. He was seated near sporting legends Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Novak Djokovic with the men all posing for a photo together.

But while no-one could begrudge the undefeated former UFC lightweight champion his sat alongside the world’s biggest sporting stars at the Lusail Stadium a photo he shared a few hours earlier has caused much more controversy. Khabib was pictured alongside radical Islamic preacher and Indian fugitive Zakir Naik:

Wanted man

Naik is unable to return to his native country of India because he is facing criminal charges. His TV channel has been banned in various countries including Canada and England.

Naik has been described as a ‘hate monger’ and accused western women make themselves more susceptible to rape by wearing revealing clothes. He is currently a resident in Malaysia where he has given speeches to packed stadiums but recently saw his Islamic Research Foundation banned for five years.

The Malaysian government said the ban was necessary because statements and speeches made by Naik ‘are objectionable and subversive and through them he has been promoting enmity and hatred among religious groups and inspiring youths of a particular religion in India and abroad to commit terrorist acts’.

Sporting stars

So on the same day that Khabib had the honour of being photographed alongside some of the best footballers and tennis players of his generation he decided to endorse a man who has repeatedly been accused of promoting terrorism. The Indian government even raised the issue of Naik’s attendance at the World Cup with its Qatari counterparts.

The Indian government was assured that Naik had not been invited as an official guest. But the banned preacher clearly craves the credibility that being photographed with world famous sporting stars gives him.

He shared a photo of himself with Khabib on his Instagram account and it has had over 25,000 likes at the time of writing.  The hate preacher’s previous post declared that men should not be allowed to mix with women, the sort of inflammatory and prejudicial rhetoric which he is renowned for.