Ligue 1: new storm around the symbol of the jersey flocked with a rainbow
“Gay or straight, we all wear the same shirt”, says the slogan. All ? No. A handful of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 players have indicated their refusal to wear the rainbow flocked jersey instituted by the Professional Football League (LFP) on the occasion of the weekend to fight against homophobia in football. After Guingamp defender Donatien Gomis (Ligue 2) on Saturday, several players due to play in the match between Toulouse and Nantes on Sunday May 14 did not appear on the match sheet because of their refusal to wear the tunic. of their team in LGBT colors.
A year after midfielder Idrissa Gueye, then at Paris Saint-Germain, strongly suspected of having withdrawn for not wearing this jersey, the question continues to make headlines in Ligue 1. If the vast majority of players in L1 and L2 wore the jersey during the 35e day of the championship, rare isolated cases taint the day of mobilization set up by the League.
In 2021, the Senegalese international had been called pale by advancing gastroenteritis. He had not advanced an explanation in 2022, his coach at the time, Mauricio Pochettino mentioned ” personal reasons “while acknowledging that his player “wasn’t hurt”. A year later, the Toulouse football club (TFC) chose to communicate on the absence of several of its players. “Players in the professional squad have expressed their disagreement with the association of their image with rainbow colors representing the LGBT movementwrites the recent winner of the Coupe de France, Sunday in a press release.
Although respectful of the individual choices of its players, and after many exchanges, the [club] chose to dismiss said players for the game” against Nantes.
“A message of diversity”
The TFC did not specify the identity of the “dismissed” players – which they wanted – but Zakaria Aboukhlal, Saïd Hamulic and Moussa Diarra were not on the score sheet against Nantes. In this revenge for the Coupe de France final (won by Toulouse), the Egyptian striker of FC Nantes, Mostafa Mohamed, did not appear there either. According The Team, the Nantes staff would have learned only half an hour before announcing the team composition that his player refused to participate in the match; the situation waking up to the pressures suffered by his family when he chose to break the Ramadan fast on match days in order to be able to play. Therefore, Mostafa stayed at the hotel while his partners moved to the Stadium de Toulouse.
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In a message posted on his social networks, Zakaria Aboukhlal justified his absence on Sunday evening. Insistent hold in “every individual is held in the highest regard, regardless of personal preference, gender, religion or background”the Moroccan striker born in the Netherlands believes “not being the most appropriate person to participate in this campaign”. And adds that ” respect is a value that I hold dear. It extends to others but also includes respecting my own personal beliefs. »
Read the interview (in 2022): “If a player declared his homosexuality, he would be supported by all of football”
In addition to the rainbow-colored flocked jerseys, captains, referees and coaches wore a similar armband this weekend. And the Montpellier club has changed the colors of its jersey – even the logo – to adorn it with LGBT colors. A way for French football to broadcast “a message of diversity, hope and love […] of a football that makes us vibrate and which must be open to all”said the LFP, Thursday, in a press release – in a country where homophobia is a crime.
A phenomenon that goes beyond football
If the League has organized every year for five years “a day dedicated to raising public awareness”on the occasion of the international day against homophobia (May 17), the rules remain unclear concerning potential players refusing to “wearing the same jersey” – often for religious reasons. And the few clubs concerned are handling the situation in their own way. “Donatien Gomis has expressed his choice not to wear this jersey. We have taken note of it”reacted the president of En avant Guingamp, Fred Le Grand, in the columns of Telegram, SATURDAY ; where Toulouse announced to dismiss the players in question.
Once again, a handful of absentees eclipse the vast majority of players – of all faiths – who donned the symbolic jersey over the weekend. Starting with the stars of PSG, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi or Ashraf Hakimi against Ajaccio on Saturday.
Emphasizing that the majority of players “played with [ce maillot]and set an example for young people, in amateur football »while the clubs “open their doors to raise awareness of the fight against homophobia”former footballer Yoann Lemaire, president of the Foot Ensemble association, nevertheless insisted on Sunday that“We underestimated the problem. »
Among the initiators of this weekend, the one who in 2004 became the first French footballer to testify to his homosexuality admitted on RMC be overwhelmed by the choice of certain players, without being totally surprised. “We expected it all the same, that a certain number of players would not want to play with this jersey. We have met quite a few this year, whether in training centers or among professional players..
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With other associations, the former player went to meet players, professionals or in training centers, to raise awareness of the fight against homophobia. And insists that the reactions encountered this weekend “do not only concern football, but also everyday life”. As often, football reflects the society in which it evolves.
Read the article (in 2019): “Being gay in football is more difficult than in other sports”