The theme at the French top flight this weekend focused on the league's anti-homophobia initiative, including numbers on players’ jerseys displayed in rainbow colors. The shirts are then sold at auction to raise funds for charities that combat LGBT discrimination.
According to La Depeche du Midi, members of Toulouse's team told manager Philippe Montanier that they did not want to play as a result of the campaign.
La Depeche du Midi reported that Costa denied having asked not to play in the match, but the others who allegedly refused were Zakaria Aboukhlal, Fares Chaibi, Logan Costa, Moussa Diarra, and Said Hamulic.
During the same campaign last year, Everton midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, who at the time played for PSG, refused to play in a match in order to avoid wearing the anti-homophobia jersey.
The campaign has been held for the last three seasons, generally followed by captains and managers wearing rainbow armbands.
The controversy became public when Toulouse boss Montanier called up 25 players for his gameday team, despite only 20 being able to be named in the starting 11 or on the bench.
Toulouse issued a statement that read, “On the occasion of the international day against homophobia, May 17th, the Toulouse Football Club and the whole of professional soccer are mobilizing against homophobia throughout this 35th day of Ligue 1 Uber Eats. However, some players of the professional squad have expressed their disagreement regarding the association of their image with the rainbow colors representing the LGBT movement.”
“Although respecting the individual choices of its players, and after numerous exchanges, the Toulouse Football Club has chosen to exclude these players from the match scheduled for this Sunday at 3 pm at the Toulouse Stadium. The Toulouse Football Club would like to remind you that 18 nationalities and 5 continents are represented within its professional team.
“Openness to the world is an integral part of the club’s DNA. Our players are chosen for their human qualities regardless of their beliefs or convictions.”
“Finally, the Toulouse Football Club would like to remind you of its long-standing commitment to the fight against homophobia and all forms of discrimination. For more than two decades now, the Club has undertaken and supported numerous projects to promote values of respect, tolerance, and sharing. Through our Foundation, we will continue to engage on a daily basis with our players, employees, volunteers, partners, and community to educate, raise awareness and create a serene, inclusive, and tolerant environment.”