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Nantes striker Mohamed fined for refusing to wear rainbow jersey

He says he respects all differences but that his beliefs must be respected as well.

AFP
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Nantes' Egyptian forward Mostafa Mohamed kicks the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Nantes and AS Monaco FC at the Stade de la Beaujoire–Louis Fonteneau in Nantes, western France, April 9. Photo: AFP
Nantes' Egyptian forward Mostafa Mohamed kicks the ball during the French L1 football match between FC Nantes and AS Monaco FC at the Stade de la Beaujoire–Louis Fonteneau in Nantes, western France, April 9. Photo: AFP

Nantes striker Mostafa Mohamed has been fined by his club after refusing to play at the weekend in a protest against an anti-homophobia campaign in France's Ligue 1, the struggling side said on Monday.

The club said Mohamed would be "punished financially" for "refusing to play against Toulouse for personal reasons at a time when FC Nantes are fighting to avoid relegation".

Nantes added that the money would be donated to a charity that supports members of the LGBTQ community who are victims of discrimination.

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.

Egyptian international Mohamed refused to take part in his team's 0-0 draw at 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 only to fine, rather than 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.

Toulouse added late Monday that Aboukhlal had been sidelined after a verbal spat with a female city politician on April 30.

The club said the Moroccan would not train with the main squad until further notice.

Aboukhlal, according to a source, allegedly told Toulouse's deputy sports official Laurence Arribage that "in his country women don't speak to men like that" when she asked him to keep the noise down at a party to celebrate the club's French Cup victory over Nantes.

The Moroccan had justified refusing to play on Sunday by saying on Instagram that "respect is a value that I hold in great esteem. It extends to others, but it also encompasses respect for my own personal beliefs".

"I sincerely hope that my decision will be respected just as we all desire to be treated with respect."

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