Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye was perceived as a ‘hero’ back in his home country of Senegal after his alleged refusal to wear a rainbow-coloured themed kit, reveals Sadio Mane’s advisor Bacary Cisse.
It was reported by French media last month that Gueye, a devout Muslim, missed his side’s 4-0 win against Montpellier because he didn’t want to wear the special shirts in an expression of solidarity to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, on Tuesday May 17.
Soon-to-be ex-PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino confirmed his absence was due to ‘personal reasons’ and not because of an injury. Gueye was also encouraged by the FFF to clarify his position.
However, despite the uproar surrounding his no-show for the Ligue 1 game, Cisse, who is also a Senegalese journalist, insists Gueye’s action have actually been well received back in his country.
‘It’s a misunderstanding,’ Cisse said, as quoted by RMC Sport. ‘We must not forget that Gueye was born in Senegal. He grew up there, he was educated there.
‘We respect everything that others do, but we don’t follow them in their culture. Culturally, no one would have understood if he had done anything other than what he did. He’s not the only one.
PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye (left) has been ‘perceived as a hero in Senegal’ after he reportedly refused to wear shirt with rainbow design in May (right)
Gueye’s reported stance has made him a ‘hero’ back in Senegal, says Sadio Mane’s advisor Bacary Cisse (pictured)
‘Today, Gueye has the total support of all Senegalese, of all Africans. In this case, we must not stigmatize the boy. He cannot justify this move. He was perceived as a hero in Senegal, of course. For us, Gueye is a hero.’
Gueye’s actions caused an outcry in France, which led to the FFF asking him to take a picture of himself wearing the shirt to silence the reported rumors of his stance.
But Cisse claims Gueye’s followers back in Senegal would have been ‘more shocked’ he if gave the specially designed jersey.
‘If Gueye had done otherwise, what would we have said? We would have been much more shocked,’ he added.
Teams in France have been wearing the rainbow-themed kits for the last two seasons – and Gueye also missed a match last year on a day dedicated to the fight against homophobia, with gastroenteritis cited as the reason behind his omission.
The French Football Federation urged Gueye to clarify reports he refused to wear a rainbow shirt for PSG’s 4-0 win against Montpellier
Gueye, pictured with team-mate Lionel Messi, is a devout Muslim and in his native Senegal homosexuality can result in five years imprisonment
‘For me, the main culprit in this affair is the staff of PSG,’ Cisse said as he defended Gueye. ‘They know that they have already had this kind of problem last year.
‘Gueye carried out humanitarian action the day before this match [he had organised a charity evening for the fight against cancer and HIV on May 12]. For me, we could spare the player from this meeting.’
The former Everton star Gueye, 32, was also seemingly backed by Cheikhou Kouyate of Crystal Palace and Ismaila Sarr at Watford, who both play with the midfielder for the Senegal national team.
Sarr posted a picture of himself standing next to Gueye on Instagram, with a fist emoji, three heart emojis and the words: ‘100 per cent’.
And Gueye’s fellow midfielder Kouyate also uploaded a photo of himself with the 32-year-old on the social media platform, calling him ‘a real man’, and adding ‘we wholeheartedly support you brother’.
Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira responded to story, saying: ‘We are against any form of discrimination’ before confirming he will talk to Kouyate.
Gueye appears to have been backed by Senegal team-mates Ismaila Sarr (left) and Cheikhou Kouyate (right) who both posted a picture of him on social media with words of support
Vieira added that he wants people to make sure they don’t jump to conclusions without knowing the full facts.
In their own statement, Watford, Sarr’s club, said: ‘Watford Football Club is proud to work collaboratively within its local community to further the messages and education around EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion), including the formation of some partnerships which have helped everyone at Vicarage Road better understand the differences in cultures that abound.
‘The club reiterates its long-term commitment to the EDI values that formed the backbone of it being recognized with the PLEDIS (Premier League Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Standard) Advanced Award, and this includes the willingness to offer further education and support to any of its employees.’
Gueye’s alleged refusal to appear in the rainbow shirt came just before Blackpool’s Jake Daniels became the first openly gay player in the country, and only the second known gay player in the world.
Watford fans reacted immediately in the wake of Sarr’s post – which was deleted – with one calling for him to leave Vicarage Road. The Hertfordshire-based club’s honorary president is gay music icon Sir Elton John.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino said Gueye was absent due to personal reasons and not injury
Despite the fury aimed at Gueye, Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Tuesday tweeted his support for the player.
‘I support Idrissa Gana Gueye. His religious beliefs must be respected,’ he wrote on Twitter.
In Senegal, where 95 percent of the population is Muslim, homosexuality can result in five years imprisonment and gay marriage is not legal.
Sports Minister Matar Ba in a statement last month said: ‘When you sign (with a club), it’s to play football. It’s not to promote anything or put aside your beliefs.’