The first black footballer to play for Liverpool has turned down an MBE nomination, saying it would be “a betrayal” to Africans who suffered at the hands of the British Empire.
Howard Gayle, 58, was born in Toxteth and made his Reds debut in 1977.
He said he had to decline the nomination, for his Show Racism the Red Card campaign work, as his ancestors would be “turning in their graves”.
The Cabinet Office said it did not comment on individual cases.
The former footballer wrote on Facebook: “Most of you who are on my FB page are aware of the work that I do tackling racism and the work I do for Show Racism A Red Card. And for that work yesterday I was nominated for a MBE.”
He added: “Which unfortunately I had to decline the nomination for the reason that my ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them.
“This is a decision that I have had to make and there will be others who may feel different and would enjoy the attraction of being a Member of the British Empire and those 3 letters after their name, but I feel that It would be a betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of Empire.”
As well as representing England at Under-21 level, Gayle played for Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Birmingham City, Halifax Town, Sunderland, Newcastle United and Stoke City.