Several players of the French soccer club Toulouse were excluded from the Ligue 1 game against Nantes on Sunday, May 14, after they refused to participate in a league-wide campaign against homophobia.
In a statement published on the day of the game, Toulouse FC explained: “Some players of the professional squad have expressed their disagreement regarding the association of their image with the rainbow colors representing the LGBT movement”,
“Although respecting the individual choices of its players, and after numerous exchanges, the Toulouse Football Club has chosen to exclude these players from the game,” the club added.
The campaign was organised by the French soccer league ahead of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17, and players were asked to wear shirts with rainbow-coloured numbers to show support to the LGBTQ+ community throughout the weekend’s games. Moreover, coaches and officials donned rainbow armbands and the teams posed with supportive banners before the matches.
Homos ou hétéros, on porte tous le même maillot 🏳️🌈
— Free Ligue 1 (@FreeLigue1) May 13, 2023
Toulouse and Morocco forward Zakaria Aboukhlal confirmed online that he made the decision not to play in Sunday’s game. “Respect is a value that I hold in great esteem. It extends to others, but it also encompasses respect for my own personal beliefs. Hence, I don’t believe I am the most suitable person to participate in this campaign,” he wrote.
Another player, Mostafa Mohamed also explains his reasons for not taking part in the campaign. “I don’t want to argue at all but I have to state my position,” he stated.
Although the campaign was created to raise attention for International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Stade Brestois coach Eric Roy called the programming of the campaign as the season wraps up “catastrophic”.
“You can see that there are players who have a problem with it. Everyone is free to express their opinions. Personally, I have no problem with it. But there are players who may have a problem with it,” he said.
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