Idrissa Gana Gueye was a conspicuous absence during Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to Montpellier on Saturday. The Senegalese midfielder was on the roster and traveled with the team, but when the match rolled around, he was nowhere to be found.
“Idrissa made the trip to Montpellier, but for personal reasons he had to leave the match sheet; but he wasn’t hurt,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said.
The dynamic midfielder wasn’t missed too much, as Lionel Messi scored twice, Ángel Di María added a third and Kylian Mbappé converted from the spot for an easy 4-0 win. Two days later, the question remained over why Gueye did not play.
Now some are calling for him to be punished.
According to reports, Gueye chose not to play because Ligue 1 clubs around the country were observing International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, which included rainbow colors for player numbers on the PSG kits.
On World Day Against Homophobia, our jerseys will have the rainbow flag, symbol of peace and diversity of the LGBT movement.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) May 14, 2022
Gueye, 32, is Muslim. He was born in Senegal, where homosexuality is illegal and a large majority of the citizens believe it should not be allowed.
Eric Arassus, the president of France LGBT+ Sports Federation, said that should be no excuse.
“Idrissa Gueye is a great player, but religion is not a part of the sport,” Arassus said. “Every player took part (in the rainbow shirt initiative), except him. He should be sanctioned. Gueye’s excuses show that the club (PSG) and league let homophobia happen.”
Rouge Direct, which fights homophobia in sport, issued a similar statement.
“Homophobia is not an opinion but a crime,” it said. “The LFP and PSG must ask Gueye for explanations and very quickly. And sanction him if necessary.”
L’#homophobie n’est pas une opinion mais un délit.
La @LFPfr et le @PSG_inside doivent demander à @IGanaGueye de s’expliquer et très vite. Et le sanctionner le cas échéant.
Déferlement de haine contre les #LGBT ce soir, suite à cette information.
Nous sommes très inquiets. https://t.co/evOqXDwyE0— Rouge Direct (@RougeDirect) May 15, 2022
This isn’t the first time Gueye has avoided playing in rainbow colors. In the same match last year, he was a late scratch with stomach issues a few hours before the game. It sounds like he couldn’t stomach the idea that queer people deserve rights, as a clear pattern has emerged.
While no one should be punished for the religion they choose to believe in, there is a limit. The Christian Bible permits slavery, but that doesn’t mean society should permit Christians or anyone else to enslaved others.
LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. Though many try to politicize the issue, human rights should not be up for political debate, just as freedom of religion should not be up for debate. If Gueye refuses to play in a uniform supporting those human rights, then he should be subject to sanctions. PSG has reportedly said it is handling the issue internally, but there has been no public statement on the matter, implying complicity.
While Gueye could try to hide behind his faith as an excuse, the truth is every other player was fine with the rainbow colors, including many other Muslims and Christians, two religions that don’t exactly have great track records when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. In the past, Gueye has seemingly been fine wearing gambling or alcohol sponsors from his time in England with Everton and Aston Villa, but it seems LGBTQ+ rights are a step too far.
This isn’t anything too new in sports. Even U.S. women’s soccer has had its problems. Jaelene Daniels (then Hinkle) refused a USWNT call-up because the team was going to wear similar rainbow-colored uniforms for Pride Month. Daniels briefly retired before coming back ahead of the 2022 season to much fan backlash.