Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed will be fined by his club after refusing to play at the weekend in a protest against an anti-homophobia campaign in France’s Ligue 1, a source at the struggling side told AFP on Monday.
The source said Mohamed would be punished “financially but would not be suspended from playing”. The size of the fine was not specified.
The numbers on shirts of all players in France’s top two divisions, as well as armbands worn by captains and officials, were rainbow-coloured as the French league staged a campaign against homophobia.
The rainbow-adorned shirts will be sold at auction with the proceeds going to three charities active in fighting LGBTQ discrimination.
However, Egyptian international Mohamed refused to take part in his team’s 0-0 draw against Toulouse to avoid being associated with the campaign, despite Nantes desperately needing points as they seek to climb out of the relegation zone.
The 25-year-old Mohamed, who is a Muslim, explained his decision not to play in a social media post on Sunday night.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“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 decision not to suspend Mohamed ensures that Nantes will not deprive themselves of a player who has scored 11 goals this season as they sit one point from safety with three games of the season remaining.
Several other players also refused to take part in the campaign and therefore missed their team’s games over the weekend, including Toulouse winger Zakaria Aboukhlal, a Moroccan international.
French government spokesman Olivier Veran called the refusal by certain players to play in protest at the anti-homophobia campaign “rubbish” and “anachronistic”.
“We live in a world today…in which everyone is free to love who they want,” Veran told television station France 2.
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