Valentin Rongier on rainbow shirts: “We’re not asking them to go to Gay Pride.”

Following last weekend’s controversy that saw several top-flight players refuse to take part in a league-wide anti-homophobia campaign, Marseille captain Valentin Rongier has criticised the mixed reaction among his colleagues, speaking to La Provence.

Matchday 35 saw players take to the pitch with rainbow-coloured numbers on their shirts, while captains and managers wore a rainbow armband, as part of the LFP’s campaign ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17.

Although most players and managers embraced the campaign, there were several negative reactions – for instance, Brest manager Eric Roy calling the timing “catastrophic“. Rongier indicates that the point of the initiative should be explained more clearly to players, so as to potentially avoid any situation in which there are players boycotting such campaigns:

“It’s a very complicated situation. I don’t know what’s happening in these players’ heads, the education they’ve had, what’s been put into their heads. That all needs to be taken into account. But I also think it’s a communication issue. The players need to be told that wearing this shirt isn’t like parading at Gay Pride. It’s just to say that we need to combat homophobia because there are injustices, people who are attacked or killed because they are homosexual, and that in 2023 that kind of situation should no longer happen. It’s impossible. We should focus on that – [the idea of] fighting injustice.”

“But it’s difficult to talk about without stirring up controversy. I wouldn’t be able to give my opinion on it. But in our dressing room, there was no discussion. We know that there is a matchday dedicated to the LGBT community. To agree with it or not is one thing, but we’re not asking the players to go parade in the streets in support of it. It’s just a shirt…”

The French midfielder and his teammates are back in action tomorrow night against Lille, as they look to close the gap on Lens in the race for second place, and an automatic Champions League spot.

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin

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