Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been questioned by the French Football Federation as to why he did not take part in a game in which players wore rainbow number shirts for speak out against homophobia.
A person with direct knowledge of the incident told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Gueye didn’t play because he didn’t want to wear a rainbow-colored number on his shirt. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as Gueye has not publicly commented on the incident.
The federation’s ethics board sent Gueye a letter, obtained by the AP on Wednesday, urging him to clarify why he missed Saturday’s game.
The board said that if the reports were wrong, the Senegal international could take a picture of him wearing the shirt.
“Your absence has given rise to numerous speculations which have been very widely interpreted as a refusal to participate in this operation to raise awareness of the fight against discrimination,” wrote the chairman of the council, Patrick Anton.
Gueye traveled with his teammates to Montpellier for the match, but PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino cited “personal reasons” for Gueye’s absence from the pitch.
“Either these assumptions are baseless, in which case we ask you to speak out without delay in order to put an end to these rumors,” writes Anton. “We invite you, for example, to accompany your message with a photo of you wearing the jersey in question.
“Or these rumors (reports) are true,” he continued. “In which case, we ask you to take stock of the impact of your actions and the very serious fault committed. The fight against discrimination affecting different minorities is a vital and constant struggle. Whether it’s skin color, or religion, or sexual orientation, or any other difference, all discrimination is based on the same grounds – rejection of others.
For the second consecutive season, French clubs have been asked to label their shirts with numbers colored with the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ movement.
Gueye also missed the equivalent game in May last season.
“By refusing to participate in this operation, you are validating discriminatory behavior (and) rejection of others, and not just against those in the LGBTQ+ movement,” Anton continued. “Football’s impact on society and the way the players are role models for those who look up to them gives us all a personal sense of responsibility. We hope this letter will make you aware that you need to clarify your position or make amends.
The case quickly became a political issue both in Senegal and in France.
Senegalese President Macky Sall tweeted his support for Gueye.
Former Senegalese Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye also lent his support to Gueye, saying the PSG player “is not homophobic. He doesn’t want his image to be used to promote homosexuality. Leave him alone.”
Homosexual relations are considered a crime in Senegal and can be punished by up to five years in prison.
Valérie Pécresse, a conservative candidate in the French presidential election last month, joined in criticizing Gueye.