Polemic about homophobic songs: "Football is a magnifying mirror of society"
Believing that the homophobic remarks were less serious than racist insults, the boss of French football has re-launched the debate on homophobia in football.
While the government and associations have launched a concertation to fight homophobic remarks in the stadiums, the boss of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noël Le Graët sparked a controversy, saying it was necessary to interrupt the matches for racist cries but not for homophobic demonstrations. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu immediately reacted, denouncing a "wrong" position, as the LGBTQ associations, who called for the resignation of Christmas Le Graët. Faced with this new controversy a question arises: is there a problem of structural homophobia in French football?
Faced with the rise of the controversy on homophobia in the stadiums, Christmas Le Graët said on September 10 on Franceinfo, football hosted on the contrary "all players". The president of the FFF has rejected any accusation of homophobia in football, going so far as to say that the ban "accentuates" the phenomenon.
"There is no doubt that the words of the president institutionally translate the position of French football," said Philippe Liotard, sociologist at the University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 and specialist in discrimination in the world of sport. "This is not a new position, homophobia is a problem that the authorities can not solve and that puts them deeply uncomfortable."
For academic Louis-Georges Tin, a militant against homophobia and racism, the football authorities are guilty because they organized impunity on both racism and homophobia by opposing any legal proceedings "They minimize the problem, saying that it is the responsibility of small groups of supporters, when they have a legal responsibility as organizers, the most incredible thing is that we started to suspend matches when the homophobic insults aimed, not the players, but the instances of football. "
The role of the players
In May 2019, Antoine Griezmann appears on the cover of the magazine LGBTQ Stubborn with an evocative quote: "Homophobia in football is enough!". The world champion has spoken several times on the subject but it is clear that he is very alone in this field. "The players are unfortunately weak on positions," regrets Louis-Georges Tin. "When they do, they may be attacked like Lilian Thuram with his comments about racism in white culture, and we can not throw stones at them because we do not encourage them to be daring."
Philippe Liotard deplores the clichés he considers well anchored in teams: "Several players told me that there were no homosexuals in football and that, if it was the case, they could not play with ".
In 2016, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 players participated in a campaign to fight homophobia, racism and sexism by wearing rainbow laces at matches. "Several officials have told me that they have extended the campaign to other types of discrimination to avoid refusals among players" says Philippe Liotard.
Homosexuality, a total taboo
Are there gay football players? The question can lend to smile so much the subject is taboo within the clubs. Yoann Lemaire's experience shows how difficult it is to come out. This former amateur player publicly revealed his homosexuality in 2004, before being placarded and finally excluded. Another rare case, that of Olivier Rouyer, the only professional French player to have revealed his homosexuality but only after ending his career as a player and coach. Today consultant for the TV Team, he strongly denounced the words of Christmas Graët he qualifies as "shameful".
For Philippe Liotard, the absence of players showing their homosexuality in professional French football is a clear indicator of the homophobic climate that reigns in football: "We know that the environment is a key factor, the more the environment is perceived as favorable by the homosexuals, the more they will tend to reveal their homosexuality.The omerta within the football is very speaking on this level ".
A mirror of society?
The president of FFF has been clear on the subject: he considers homophobia more acceptable than racism. Is this point of view confined to the authorities of football or does it find a resonance within the French society?
For Louis-Georges Tin, homophobia is undeniably more present in sport and football in particular than in the rest of society: "This is one of the only single-sex environments that continues. between men, the issue of homosexuality is both more present and more taboo.Some people consider it a personal threat which exacerbates masculinity and sexism.It is a magnifying mirror of a very real problem in society. ".
This point of view is shared by Philippe Liotard: "In football it is widely accepted that racism is unacceptable, there is no evidence that the same is true for homophobia." In French society, homophobic insults are of course, but the contrast seems less marked with racism. "