During a France team press conference organized forty-eight hours before his match in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar, the player Antoine Griezmann, questioned on the subject, affirmed his support for members of the LGBT + community, Friday, December 2. “No matter where I am in the world, they know they will always have my support,” he argued in response to a question from a journalist.
The attacking midfielder of the France team was then questioned about a possible embarrassment felt at the idea of competing in a country where homosexuality is prohibited and liable to criminal prosecution. He has answered :
A little embarrassed ? Yes and no. No matter where I am in the world, they know they will always have my support. Then, I am a footballer, it is my profession. My country calls me to play an international competition, so it is with pride and a lot of desire that I come. But, as I said, they [les personnes LGBT+] have my full support and respect.
💬 Antoine Griezmann: “No matter where I am in the world, the LGBT community knows that I support them and that I… https://t.co/bfUcnnuHJj
Strong pressure for players to take a stand
Pressure has grown on France squad players in recent weeks to take a stand facing the controversial organization of the World Cup in the emirate, especially about human rights and homosexuality. In a column published Wednesday, November 9 on the site ofWest France, a group of associations and personalities has called on the France team and the national authorities to denounce the violations of the rights of LGBT+ people committed by the Qatari authorities.
“We are waiting for an awareness that discrimination against LGBT people concerns everyone, even Griezmann or Mbappé”insisted Julien Pontes, spokesperson for the collective Rouge direct – which fights against homophobia in football –, with Agence France-Presse, denouncing a “deafening silence” of the French team.
Remained silent until this stage of the competition, Antoine Griezmann was one of the most anticipated players at the turn on the question, because of his previous positions in support of the LGBT + community.
In May 2019, the French player had, in fact, made the cover from LGBT+ magazine Stubborn, amid controversy over persistent homophobia in stadiums. He then asserted: “Homophobia is not an opinion, but a crime. And, from now on, if a player makes homophobic remarks on the ground, I think that I will stop the match”.
Before the international tournament was held, eight European teams had announced that their captain would wear a “One Love” rainbow armband, but the idea was abandoned after threats of sanctions from FIFA.
On this subject, the captain and goalkeeper of the France team, Hugo Lloris, was strongly criticized for having affirmed, during a press conference on November 14, that he would respect the rules of Qatar during the World Cup, whether “agree or not” with his ideas.
If FIFA has also assured that flags or clothes in the colors of the rainbow of the LGBT+ flag would be accepted in the stadiums during the World Cup, in fact these have been confiscated on several occasions by the security forces since the launch of the competition.