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France wants to sanction football players for rejecting LGBTQ jerseys

Several athletes chose not to play over the weekend rather than wear a shirt with a rainbow-colored number

A number of professional football players in France have drawn the ire of the nation’s sports ministry for refusing to take part in an annual league-wide anti-homophobia campaign, French media have reported. 

Over the weekend, all teams in France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 divisions were required to wear uniforms featuring rainbow-colored numbers on the back as part of the initiative. However, players from several clubs, including Toulouse FC’s Zakaria Aboukhlal and Nantes’ Mostafa Mohamed, were omitted from the roster after they refused to wear the jerseys. 

Aboukhlal, who is Moroccan, wrote on social media that he “made the decision not to take part in the match” over the weekend and noted that he had “the highest regard for each individual, without judging their personal preferences, gender, religion, or background. It is a principle.” 


“Respect is a value that I hold in high regard. This applies to others, but also to my own beliefs. I do not think I am the right person to participate in this campaign,” he wrote, asking for his decision to be respected. 

In response, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera called for the players who refused to participate in the anti-homophobia campaign to be sanctioned by their respective clubs. 

“I deeply regret that we don’t have 100% of the players in France who find themselves in this message of non-discrimination,” Oudea-Castera said on Sunday. She added that it is the “responsibility of the clubs” to take measures against the athletes for refusing to participate in an anti-discrimination campaign involving all clubs. 

Government spokesman Olivier Veran also blasted the decision of the players, calling their refusal to put on the LGBTQ jerseys “anachronistic.”  


“I was reading an article earlier where someone, a coach I believe, said that homophobia was an opinion: no, it’s a crime”, he told the television channel France 2. 

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Sporting organizations around the world have in recent years been encouraging their athletes to participate in similar pro-LGBTQ campaigns. However, some athletes have refused to participate, citing their personal beliefs.  

Earlier this year, 26-year-old Ivan Provorov, a Russian defender for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, drew backlash after he opted out of a pre-game warmup where he would have been required to wear a rainbow-colored warmup jersey in support of the Pride movement.  


Provorov explained that while he respected “everybody’s choices,” he chose to “stay true to myself and my religion.” Nevertheless, his decision caused outrage in NHL circles, with a number of pundits calling for the Russian’s removal from the club and even that he be deported from the US.

May 15, 2023 at 05:37PM

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