Idrissa Gueye traveled south to Montpellier along with his Paris St. Germain teammates for the team’s league game on Saturday but wound up watching it from the stands. Gueye was not injured, his coach said after P.S.G.’s victory: He “had to go away the team for private reasons.”
Those personal reasons, a team source confirmed Monday, were that Gueye had refused to hitch his teammates in wearing a special jersey featuring rainbow-colored numbers created to focus on discrimination before Tuesday’s global events marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The jerseys were a part of a coordinated leaguewide effort.
Gueye has not commented on his absence, but French news media reports, which were first to report the explanation for Gueye’s missing the sport on Saturday, quickly noted that he had also missed the identical awareness-raising fixture last season. Last season’s absence was attributed to a stomach issue, but this yr P.S.G.’s coach, Mauricio Pochettino, said Gueye didn’t have any health issues.
Activist groups were quick to denounce Gueye’s decision to say no to wear the jersey. Rouge Direct, a bunch that fights homophobia in sports, called on the French league, P.S.G. and Gueye to “explain themselves” and suggested Gueye needs to be punished for his actions.
For P.S.G. the difficulty of support for gay rights and anti-homophobia efforts is a very sensitive one. The team is owned by the Qatari state through its sovereign wealth fund, and Qatar itself has come under scrutiny amid concerns from the gay community about their safety when the World Cup takes place within the Gulf country later this yr. Homosexuality is against the law in Qatar, because it is in other countries within the Gulf, but World Cup organizers have insisted that every one fans can be welcome in the course of the tournament.
Same-sex acts are also illegal in Gueye’s native Senegal, where ultraconservative groups have burned rainbow flags during public protests against homosexuality.
P.S.G. has not commented on Gueye beyond the comments made by Pochettino after Sunday’s game.
The club’s senior officials are currently in Qatar, in response to a team representative, and it’s unclear what measures, if any, can be taken against Gueye, whose contract with P.S.G. expires at the top of next month.
P.S.G. is by far the most important team in France and attracts outsize interest, at home and abroad, due to its star-studded roster, which this yr produced the club’s eighth French championship prior to now 10 years. On Saturday at Montpellier, two of its star forwards — Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi — each scored goals, helping to focus on the specially commissioned jersey they wore on social media and beyond.
In line with the team source with knowledge of P.S.G.’s internal conversations over the weekend, club officials had told Gueye that the team was committed to the campaign and that he had no option but wear the identical jersey as the remainder of his teammates if he desired to play. When Gueye decided he wouldn’t, he was sent to the stands for the sport, in response to an individual with knowledge of the incident.