August 15, 2022

This is what we’re up against

Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate is facing backlash after publicly coming out in support of his international teammate Idrissa Gueye amid a controversy surrounding rainbow numbers on Paris Saint-Germain shirts.

It was reported on Monday that the PSG player has refused to play in their fixture at the weekend as he didn’t want to play in a shirt that had his number in rainbow colours.

This weekend, players across France wore special rainbow shirts ahead of the upcoming International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on Tuesday May 17.

However, former Everton man Gueye was absent from the match on Saturday, with manager Mauricio Pochettino saying it was due to ‘personal reasons, but he is not injured’.

Since these reports emerged, Gueye’s Senegal teammate and friend Kouyate has come out in defence of his stance.

Posting a series of photos of the pair to his Instagram story, Kouyate decorated the posts with captions that read: “a real man,” adding “we do everything with you, my brother.”

Kouyate then added another slide, describing Gueye as a champion.

“Champion with a big heart,” the caption began.

“Champion in your behaviour, champion in your generosity, champion you were, champion you are, champion you will remain in our eyes.”

The former Wes Ham man has since faced criticism on social media for what appears to be a defence of Gueye’s stance against the inclusion of rainbow colours on kits.

Palace fan Rob Sutherland wrote: “Kouyate’s Instagram post, in which he shows support for Idrissa Gueye following his refusal to play for PSG due to rainbow numbers, is indicative of the challenge faced by Jake Daniels. Not everyone will be accepting. Not everyone will be supportive. But many are.”

Fan account ‘The Palace Way’ also said: “Can’t help but feel this goes against the values of Palace as a club.”

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Matchday365 said: “People like this shouldn’t be representing Crystal Palace or the Premier League. For people whose response to footballers coming out is “why is this a big deal?”, this is why.”

Kouyate wasn’t the only player to support Gueye either. Watford and Senegal winer Ismaila Sarr also posted a now deleted photo of Gueye to his Instagram story, captioned with three love hearts and “100%.”

Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendy also seemingly defended his fellow international teammate in a now-deleted Instagram story which translated to say: “Wholeheartedly with you.”

It is a sad reminder of the challenges football faces in the battle against homophobia, and that’s without even delving into the hypocrisy of a club funded by the Qatari state wearing rainbow colours on their shirts.

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