In a recent turn of events, a selection of players from Toulouse Football Club were excused from their Ligue 1 fixture against Nantes, following their refusal to partake in a league-wide initiative against homophobia.
Confirming the actions in a formal statement, the club said, “Certain members of our professional squad have voiced their opposition to having their images linked with the rainbow colours that symbolize the LGBT movement.”
The club added that while they respected the personal choices of its players, after extensive discussions, they ultimately made the decision to exclude the players who disagreed from the match.
As part of a gesture towards the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, players from Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 were requested to wear jerseys with rainbow-coloured numbers.
However, Zakaria Aboukhlal, a forward for Toulouse and the Morocco national team, chose to withdraw his participation in the game, taking to Twitter to say, “I have elected not to be a part of today’s match.”
“I value respect deeply. It includes respecting others, but also extends to my own personal beliefs. Therefore, I do not think I am the best candidate to be a part of this initiative,” He elaborated.
Meanwhile, Eric Roy, the coach for Stade Brestois, expressed his concerns about the timing of the anti-homophobia campaign, suggesting that it shouldn’t coincide with the closing stages of the season, as players’ decisions to abstain could heavily influence the relegation battles their clubs are facing.
“The scheduling of this anti-homophobia day is unfortunate. It’s clear that some players have issues with it. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, I personally don’t have a problem with the campaign. However, there are players who might,” Roy remarked.
“The campaign should not be planned at a time when certain players are battling to avoid relegation. It could be rescheduled to a less crucial time, like December or September,” the coach added.