Oussim Belkacem says: “Idrissa Guy is the result of a system”

A year ago Oussim Belkacem published his first book, goodbye naked (Fayard), whose hard copy will be released by HarperCollins on June 1. The 34-year-old Tunisian-French national, formerly a resident of the TFC Training Center, broke the taboo of homophobia in football there. A topic that necessarily sparked the controversy that took place over the weekend. according to Paris And RMC Sport, Idrissa Gueye did not play for PSG on Saturday night in Montpellier because he did not want to participate in the day to fight this discrimination.

At the end of the day, there has been no official response from the player, club or LFP, on the origin of the initiative launched in 2019. This two was requested by 20 minutesOuissem Belgacem evokes his disappointment with this type of behaviour, but also notes that the body approach that governs French professional football is akin to “pinkwashing”. He advocates objective politics, such as his conferences with clubs and companies, and relies on a documentary film shot in his work to contribute to changing mindsets.

What is your reaction to this controversy?

If it turns out that Idrissa Gaye does not want to play for religious reasons, I would find that very frustrating. This really proves the limits of this LFP process, with these flowy, rainbow jerseys. I know there are a lot of guys out there who just wear them because they have to, but they just aren’t aware of why. We don’t see any Instagram posts from players that indicate they’re proud to be involved on this day. I have the impression that it is a publicity stunt rather than an educational and awareness work with the players, the public and the coaches…

And to return to the behavior of Idrissa Gaye, remember the religious reasons. I am also a Muslim and it is always fun and sad to see that we can carry a religion in a different way. For me, Islam is above all a religion of tolerance, peace and love of neighbour, in which we should not judge each other. What unites us all in the end is the condemnation of grievances. Today, when you are gay in France, it is clear that you will suffer from homophobia in all areas of your life.

Football is about living together in theory. I find it unfortunate that Idrissa Gaye does not feel affected by this issue as a human being, and it is unfortunate that PSG has staff that are unwilling to denounce and fight injustice. In the end, it is a human issue. We are not asking any player to open Gay Pride, just to provide somewhat subtle support to curb homophobia in France.

Would you support player sanctions if the facts were confirmed, such as what Rogue Direct, an association that combats homophobia in sports, is demanding?

I don’t think this is the solution. Not that he did not participate in this day because he suffers from homophobia. We don’t know his opinion. I would like to ask him the question as I do in clubs: “Why do you not care about this question?” Did you know that living together is one of the values ​​we want to defend in French sport? »

There is the concept of education regarding difference. By wanting to force a certain costume on the 37th, at the end of the season, we have more of the impression that this process corresponds to a checkbox more than anything else.

Do you mean that the football authorities are seeking to clear their conscience?

Yes, to be able to say: “Look, we’re doing something.” But will this action awaken the conscience and affect people who are homophobic or indifferent to the issue of homosexuality? I doubt that clearly.

Already in 2019, there was a story of rainbow badges that some Ligue 1 captains did not want to wear…

It’s a recurring discussion. We must not attack Idrissa Kai as an individual. For me, it is the result of a system. I would like to send him to spend some time in an association that works with LGBTQ people. To show that in the end, in France, we are not far from each other, that we are all the same.

On the 37th day of L1 2018-2019, Edinson Cavani wore a rainbow badge.  Not all captains imitated him.
On the 37th day of L1 2018-2019, Edinson Cavani wore a rainbow badge. Not all captains imitated him. – Francois Morey/AFP/Siba

I recently said that homophobia is the blind spot of discrimination. Does this kind of business confirm it?

definitely. I haven’t read a lot of reactions from French footballers. People prefer not to talk about it. They also know that our society is conditioned by current events. Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow there will be another topic, the Champions League final which is approaching… Then they go on vacation and another season begins. We hang out, no one talks, and then we move on.

What do you think of the many reactions on social networks defending Gueye?

This is very frustrating, but not surprising. As long as we don’t do concrete actions, and we don’t do extensive training programs with pro players, supervisors, and guys from coaching centers that we can do on the same day every year with the rainbow jerseys huddled, it’s not going to happen. Get things further.

When you meet young players during club conferences, are you surprised by their reactions?

I still hear very anti-gay rhetoric. Sometimes there are some lights on and that’s so much fun. But I traveled all over France and heard the same speeches: “Two men together, it’s disgusting,” “Gays, I don’t like them,” while the child does not know which of the homosexuals … It is scary. I’m sure many don’t know what the LGBT flag stands for. Last year I saw a video of a football player who thinks it’s about fighting racism, because there was all the colors…

For Ouissem Belgacem, the LFP initiative against homophobia is like
For Ouissem Belgacem, the LFP’s initiative against homophobia is like a “propaganda stunt”. – Adel Banayash / Siba

The issue of homophobia is not specific to football…

No, but with France’s number one attacking power, soccer can be considered a great teaching tool. Players are followed by millions and millions of young people. If they show beautiful values, in keeping with what sport and France are supposed to represent, that could have a wonderful effect. If today Mbappe dyes his hair pink, tomorrow I will walk in Paris and see many young men with pink hair.

A year after your book was released, do you see any progress?

I hope to be able to develop some brains. Filming the documentary since September 2021 will be very vital. I won’t be able to go to all the clubs in France. I hope that the documentary will be available to all young people in France, to all parents. It will be a very, very powerful educational tool.

Despite all the obstacles standing in your way, are you still a football fan?

Yes, a million percent! I’m also looking for places for the Champions League final, it’s not really easy (smile). Football is my first love and I will never stop loving it. The sensations that I experience with football, on the field, are incomparable. But I completely separate my sport from the people who make it.

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