Whether humanist or cultural, is universalism, which has long been a value widely shared by human beings, still possible today? Because it is towards this questioning of an existential order that we are moving by dint of wanting to put all people in the same mold.
Although he is an excellent midfielder, mastering almost to perfection the art of positioning and recovery (of the ball) when necessary, Idrissa Gueye, would have done well without such a controversy which is so harmful to its sporting quietude. And yet, his religious and also cultural convictions, which they carry viscerally within him, are so strong that they could not bring themselves to wear the rainbow jersey on May 14, World Wrestling Day. against homophobia. It did not take more to trigger a lively controversy in France. For many, Idrissa because of this refusal, would be the devil in person. When in reality, he made a choice, in complete freedom of conscience and religion.
The LGBTQI + movement in France hastened to condemn the act of Idrissa Gana Gueye calling him homophobic, while urging that he be sanctioned by his club with the key to a layoff. Same story on almost all of the reactions that we have witnessed in the country. And the reckless few who try to explain the motivation for Gueye’s choice are misunderstood at best, when they too are not labeled as homophobic. This is the case of journalist Gilles Verdez, although he clearly explained the player’s reasoning during the successful TV show “Touche Pas à Mon Poste” (TPMP) on C8. He will have been violently attacked by two of his colleagues on the set, one not hesitating to call him bird names before leaving the scene.
Through the Idrissa Gueye Affair, which has not yet known its epilogue, questions arise as to our respective capacities to tolerate the way of seeing the other, while being faithful to our deepest convictions. Because it seems that everyone has their own red line which does not necessarily correspond to that of the other.
Basically, what can we blame Idrissa Gueye for? He did not attack anyone either verbally or physically. Can we or should we force someone to display symbols that betray their confessional conscience? Because yes, being faithful to one’s values is also an individual freedom. The condition would be to do so without offending the other. This is what Gueye has accomplished. He will have made his choice in all discretion. And besides, since the outbreak of the case, he has maintained a silence that says a lot about his maturity and his strength of conviction. We must also salute the courage of the man who, although aware that his gesture had a strong risk of earning him blame, reprimands and even insults, will have remained upright in his crampons.
Will there be Gueye case law on the matter?
Little known to the general public, professional players will have made strong choices to be at peace with their freedom of conscience and religion. This is the case, for example, of the Moroccan player Mehdi Benatia who will have packed his bags for Qatar while he was playing at the top of European football. The former Bayern Munich and Juventus had justified his choice for religious reasons. For him, in the Emirate, he would be in a setting that would suit him better and had asked everyone to respect his choice. It was at the beginning of 2019. Another case is that of the player Nicola Legrottaglie who publicly assumed his religious convictions which go against homosexuality. Fervent Catholic, for him, the Bible will have been clear: “God says that a man and a woman are born to be one thing and to raise children. If two men want to be together, I respect them, but I disagree. God loves every creature, but does not love sin”.
Therefore, we understand that the global trend of the world, but especially of the West, is atheism. Religion has less and less of a place in almost all areas of life. Often, it even finds itself distorted from its origin to conform to the desired order of the moment. However, in the next few days, the reaction of the French Federation is expected. Either the balance will tip on Gueye’s side and now each player will have the right to wear or name any symbol, which is highly unlikely, or the latter will be sanctioned for the example. In this last case, it is not excluded, to the chagrin of Parisian supporters, that the player chooses to go to another championship where people are more tolerant on the subject.
However, the error that European football authorities make is to put the fight against racism and that against homophobia in the same basket. There is no religion that encourages racism, quite the contrary. While homosexuality can be a blockage for someone from an environment other than the Western one. European football attracting players of all origins, its main challenge would perhaps be to find the right formula so that each other can evolve on the field together. For this, the federations will have to show tact, but above all, open-mindedness, at the risk of depriving their teams of quality personnel. They should not limit themselves to their strictly Western vision. Because if universalism is becoming more and more difficult these days, football is universal.
Ahmed M. Thiam
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