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Homophobia is ‘the norm’ among French footballers

Homophobia is “the norm” among France’s top footballers, according to a new survey which found that almost half of professional players are “hostile to homosexuality,” and one in two young players would be afraid to shower with a gay teammate.

Homophobia is 'the norm' among French footballers
File photo: AFP

The poll, led by sports psychologist Anthony Mette for the amateur football club ‘Paris Foot Gay,’ found that 41 percent of professional players from France’s top two football divisions appeared to hold homophobic views.

Among the 121 professional footballers, drawn from 13 clubs, 63 percent said they would be surprised if a teammate revealed he was gay, “because it’s a taboo subject.”

The authors of the study were especially “alarmed” by homophobia among clubs' youth academy players with as many as half of youth team players expressing hostility towards gay people, the survey found.

“As things are now, it seems almost impossible that a young gay man could come out in the context of a youth academy,” the report concluded.

The survey, the first of its kind in France, also found that more than half of youth players would be scared to shower with a teammate they knew was gay, and that 22 percent “would prefer if he left the team"..

Almost a quarter of youth players confessed they would be worried “the team’s performance would be worse” with a gay player among their ranks.

Paris Foot Gay is an amateur football club, founded in 2003, which competes in a local league and engages in activism to remove homophobia from French football. It has a close relationship with the city’s professional team, Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

In 2009 a team made up of Muslim men caused outrage when they refused to play against the gay club, citing their religious convictions. The team was permanently banned from its local league.

The authors of the report, however, saw encouraging signs in some of the nuances of players’ responses.

“We have to distinguish between opinions towards homosexuality in general, and [the question of] ‘what I would think’ about a gay teammate. A majority of [professional] footballers would be open to the idea of a teammate having a gay relationship,” the researchers told French daily 20 Minutes.

The survey comes after a number of high-profile attacks on gay men in France, which are believed to have been driven by homophobia.

Earlier this month, president of gay rights group SOS Homophobie, Elizabeth Ronzier, told The Local “We have seen a thirty percent rise in the number of homophobic incidents since October,” a spike which she attributed to vocal opposition the French government’s bill to legalize gay marriage, which was adopted last Tuesday.

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FOOTBALL

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage

French prosecutors on Friday called for a 15-year prison sentence for one of two Russians accused of beating a British supporter during Euro 2016, an attack that left him with brain injuries.

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage
Russian fans light flares at the match against England in 2016.. Photo: AFP

One prosecutor, Christophe Raffin, asked for the “legal maximum… between 14 and 15 years” for Pavel Kossov, who is accused of throwing the first punch at 55-year-old Andrew Bache.

Bache was injured in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11th, 2016.

The second Russian on trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mikhail Ivkine, stands accused of throwing a chair at the victim, with prosecutors asking for a potential suspended sentence of up to five years.

He has claimed he was defending himself.

“No, it wasn't legitimate self-defence, it was illegitimate use of force against Andrew Bache,” Raffin said of the violence.

 

Police give emergency aid to Andrew Bache following clashes in the city of Marseille. Photo: AFP

The prosecutors said the Russians were part of a group of about 150 men, many with martial arts training, who wrought havoc in Marseille.

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial.

His son Harry, who nurses his father, is representing him in court.

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