PSG’s Idrissa Gueye told to explain why he avoided wearing anti-homophobia symbol

Idrissa Gueye has been urged to explain his absence from the game

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye has been urged to explain his absence from his team’s clash with Montpellier at the weekend amid reports he refused to wear a shirt with a rainbow-coloured number.

The Senegal midfielder travelled with his teammates to Saturday’s French league game but did not play, with PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino citing “personal reasons” to justify his absence.

For the second consecutive season, Ligue 1 clubs were invited to label their players’ shirts with coloured numbers using the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBT+ movement.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the incident, Gueye did not play because he did not want to wear a rainbow-colored number on the back of his shirt. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the player has not yet commented publicly on the incident.

Gueye also missed the corresponding fixture last season, citing gastroenteritis.

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French radio RMC first reported on the reasons why Gueye skipped the match.

The Rouge Direct group said in a message posted on Twitter that PSG and the league should not exclude the possibility of sanctioning Gueye.

“Homophobia is not an opinion but a crime,” the group said.

The case took a political turn when Valerie Pecresse, the conservative candidate at the French presidential election last month, joined the criticism of Gueye.

“The players of a soccer club, and those of PSG in particular, are identification figures for our young people,” she wrote on Twitter. “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!”

Homophobic chants, often heard at French league matches, have been tolerated for a long time by many club officials, and soccer authorities have struggled to find the appropriate ways of tackling the issue. The French league, however, launched an action plan three years ago allowing spectators to report sexist, homophobic or racist incidents they witness.

Additional reporting by AP.

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