PSG player takes stance against rainbow shirt

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Thu, 19/05/2022
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A PSG  player refused to take part in a match because it would have meant him wearing a shirt depicting a rainbow symbol, in support of LGBTQ+ rights. Idrissa Gueye, 32, who used to play for both Everton and Aston Villa, sat out Saturday’s game against Montpellier.

While PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said that Gueye's absence was due to personal reasons, the actual reasons have now become clear. The French Football Federation (FFF) has sought urgent clarification from Gueye, and has demanded a public apology or denial of the rumours of him refusing to play publicly.

Gueye is from Senegal, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to five years in jail. Macky Sall, the country’s current President, has made it abundantly clear that he will not decriminalise homosexuality. PSG’s owners are from Qatar, where homosexuality is also illegal, which remains a contentious issue ahead of this year’s World Cup. It contravenes FIFA's stance on diversity and equality in the sport. Thousands of LGBTQ+ supporters, who might otherwise have attended, will be forced to miss this year’s finals from November.

He has received apparent support from Senegalese teammates Ismaila Sarr of Watford and Cheikhou Kouyate of Crystal Palace. Both clubs have distanced themselves from their messages, emphasising their commitment to diversity and equality, and have also indicated their willingness to offer further education and support to any employee struggling to embrace such ideas.

To celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia  and Transphobia, on 17 May, for the second successive season, clubs in France were encouraged to mark the occasion by wearing rainbow-design numbers on the back of their shirts. PSG expressed their pride in wearing the shirt.

Gueye also missed last year’s display of solidarity, although in that case he claimed to be down with a bout of gastroenteritis. Battle lines are already being drawn there, with the sizeable Senegalese community in France, and even people from other countries criticising how he has been demonised in the foreign media.