French League Footballers Clash With Authorities, Refuse to Wear Rainbow LGBT Armbands


French League players were at loggerheads with the organizers and governing body of the French league over the call to wear yellow LGBT armbands last weekend.

French league governing body have asked players, staffs, and other match officials to wear the rainbow LGBT armband as a sign of solidarity with LGBT communities, a call which sparked a storm of controversy among several players.

The gesture was planned by the league’s governing body to highlight the French league’s pro-LGBT stand amidst the controversies surrounding the integration of LGBT players and communities in football.

We understand world football governing body, FIFA, have always reiterated their unyielding stand and opposition to all forms of discrimination against sexual minorities in football.

The 2022 World Cup was a major flashpoint of conflict between pro and anti-LGBT forces in football.

FIFA kicked against pro-LGBT campaigns in 2022 World Cup

Hosts, Qatar, urged the fans to respect the conservative tradition of the Qatari people by not turning football stadia into protest grounds to press home demands for an end to discrimination against LGBT communities as planned by Western FAs.

Amid the row between the two side of the moral divide, FIFA seem to take side with Qatar, asking the tradition of the largely conservative Muslim country to be respected.

The LGBT issue has continued to trigger controversies in football. While FIFA have reiterated their broad and open-minded campaigns to stop all forms of discrimination against LGBT and gay footballers and communities in football, the LGBT saga has continued to be a divisive and controversial phenomenon at the individual level.

French League
Morocco and Toulouse defender Zakaria Aboukhlal left out of Toulouse squad in the weekend for refusing to wear the rainbow armband

The move for a collective effort, dragging all players to express their support for the LGBT communities, backfired in France.

After the football authorities asked the players to put on the armband during the weekend, a player like Zakaria Aboukhlal, a Moroccan and Toulouse defender, chose not to feature in his team for the weekend match while others obeyed the call.

According to Aboukhlal, as much as he respect the choices and sexual orientation of the LGBT players and communities, his choices and values should also be respected.

“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 on Twitter.

According to AlJazeera, Toulouse did not force their players to join the solidarity move but leave out players who choose not partake in their weekend squad.

National Union of Professional Footballers react

The National Union of Professional Footballers, a body articulating the interest and concerns of all professional footballers in different leagues in France, issued a statement which seem to clash with the order by the French football administrators.

According to the group, the players shouldn’t have been asked to make a “collective move” of solidarity for the LGBT community and the clubs should not have forced it on the players.

While no disciplinary move on the defaulting players are not expected since the call was just a solicitation not a binding order, it is evident not all footballers are ready to be dragged into LGBT question in football.

Such gestures could be deleterious to the long-term goals of ending all forms of discrimination in football.

However, the extent to which football administrators should prevail on individual rights and choices to promote a truly global and inclusive football is debatable.


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