Egyptian international and Nantes striker, Mostafa Mohamed has landed himself in trouble with the club management at Nantes after he refused to play against Toulouse in the French Ligue 1 over the weekend. This was his way of protesting against the anti-homophobia campaign being staged in France’s top two football divisions.
Mostafa Mohamed, a strong Muslim player, refused to take part in the campaign and declined to wear a rainbow-colored armband and jersey in the match against Toulouse. As a result, he will now be fined by the club, although he won’t be suspended from playing. The exact amount of the fine has not been disclosed.
The Ligue 1 campaign, which featured rainbow-colored jerseys worn by all players in the top two French divisions, was aimed at raising awareness of LGBTQ discrimination. The rainbow-adorned jerseys worn by the players will be auctioned, and the proceeds will be donated to three charities dedicated to fighting discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
In a tweet on Sunday night, Mostafa Mohamed explained his decision, saying, “I respect all differences. I respect all beliefs and all convictions. This respect extends to others, but my personal beliefs must be respected as well.”
He went on to say, “Given my roots, my culture, the importance of my convictions and beliefs, it was not possible for me to participate in this campaign. I hope my decision will be respected.”
The refusal of Mostafa Mohamed to play drew sharp criticism from French government spokesman Olivier Veran, who described it as “rubbish” and “anachronistic” and urged players to respect the anti-homophobia campaign.
Several other players also refused to participate in the campaign, including Toulouse winger Zakaria Aboukhlal, a Moroccan international.
Despite the controversy, Nantes avoided the worst-case scenario of suspending Mostafa Mohamed, which means they can continue to rely on his goal-scoring prowess in the remaining games of the season as they seek to avoid relegation.
Zakaria Aboukhlal And Mostafa Mohamed Explain Decision Not To Wear Rainbow Shirt
The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is set to take place next Wednesday. In anticipation of the day, players across various matches in Ligue 1 wore shirts with rainbow numbers during last weekend’s round of games, while managers and captains donned rainbow armbands.
However, Mostafa Mohamed wasn’t the only player to refuse to take part in the match, In particular, a group of Toulouse players chose to sit out Sunday’s game between the two teams in objection to wearing shirts with a rainbow pattern.
“Players of the professional squad have expressed disagreement over the association of their image with rainbow colours representing the LGBT movement”, Toulouse have written in a club statement. “Although respectful of the individual choices of their players, and after numerous exchanges, Toulouse Football Club has chosen to sideline said players for the game scheduled for this Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Toulouse Stadium.” Eventually, Toulouse v Nantes kicked off at 4:30 pm as a result of suspicious packages found in the away end. The packages in question were three boxes intended to cover the away end full of Nantes fans in purple smoke, purple being the hosts’ colour.
Zakaria Aboukhlal, who was among the players sidelined by Toulouse, released a statement on social media to justify his decision. He emphasized that he has the utmost respect for every individual regardless of their personal preferences, gender, religion, or background, but due to his personal beliefs, he won’t participate in the campaign.
“Respect is a value that I hold in high esteem. It extends to others, but it also encompasses my own personal beliefs,” Aboukhlal wrote.
Similarly, Mostafa Mohamed explained in his own statement that he respects all differences, beliefs, and convictions, but he couldn’t take part in the campaign due to his roots, culture, and the importance of his personal convictions and beliefs.
On Monday morning, the players’ union, the UNFP, indicated that although they are against homophobia, they would not comment on individual cases of players refusing to wear the rainbow shirt.
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