Senegalese President Macky Sall on Tuesday expressed support for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player Idrissa Gana Gueye after he was criticized for allegedly sitting out a match because he wanted to avoid wearing a jersey showing support for LGBTQ+ rights.
To commemorate May 17’s World Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, clubs in France were encouraged to change the colors on their jersey numbers to a rainbow-design pattern to show support for the community, CNN reported.
But Gueye, a devout Muslim, reportedly opted not to feature in PSG’s Saturday match against Montpellier because he did not want to wear the jersey. Last year, the Senegal international also similarly missed a game around the same period. He was said to have had a bout of gastroenteritis at the time.
In a press conference, PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino said Gueye did not feature in Saturday’s game because of “personal reasons.” But the 32-year-old’s alleged actions were criticized, and it sparked calls for him to be sanctioned.
French politician Valérie Pécresse shared those sentiments in a tweet. “The players of a football club, and those of PSG in particular, are figures of identification for our young people. They have a duty to set an example. A refusal by Idrissa Gana Gueye to join the fight against homophobia could not remain without sanction!” she posted.
Rogue Direct, which is a group combating homophobia in sports, also called on French football authorities to punish Gueye. The National Council of Ethics of the French Football Federation (FFF) has since summoned Gueye to explain why he allegedly sat out Saturday’s match.
In the wake of the backlash, however, a section of people – including Senegal President Sall – have expressed support for Gueye. In a Tweet on Tuesday, President Sall wrote: “I support Idrissa Gana Gueye. His religious convictions must be respected.”
On Wednesday, #WeareallIdrissa was the top global Twitter trend as people shared tweets in support of Gueye, BBC reported. The 32-year-old has also received support from his compatriots back home in Senegal.
In Senegal, homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to five years behind bars. It is also criminalized in Qatar, which is the home country of the owners of PSG.