Yoann Lemaire: "Lloris’ communication is lamentable"

Yoann Lemaire, founder and president of the Foot Ensemble association, could not stomach seeing Hugo Lloris join Noël Le Graët’s disconnected speech on wearing the rainbow armband in Qatar. He believes that this lack of initiatives from French football is destructive for those who fight against homophobia on a daily basis.


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How did you welcome the words of Hugo Lloris, who said he joined the president of the FFF Noël Le Graët in not particularly wishing to wear the rainbow armband against discrimination in Qatar?
Worse, he says he has to respect their culture and their rules, basically that means respecting homophobia. I was disgusted, I was in full video with young footballers to talk about the subject when I received lots of text messages on this statement. It disturbed me because I really believed that he was going to do it, even if having met him to talk about this subject, I had seen that his answers were not thought out, worked, but rather disappointing . Wearing an armband is not a big deal, even the United States will do it, and you have to commit once in a while, even in moderation. We can think that the country champion of the world and of human rights shows that it does not accept that we put people on the margins of society, without creating a mess. There was Noël Le Graët, Sports Minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra a few weeks ago, and now Lloris who is taking a stand… What’s behind that? It’s a little beyond me. We pass for puppets, and that once again gives a very bad image of football, an environment in which we nevertheless see many efforts every day in professional and amateur clubs. And there, the example above is catastrophic. I am ashamed for our country.

You say you were disappointed during an interview with Hugo Lloris, how did that show up in his answers?
There were five of us, including a journalist from France 3 and technicians, and I had been particularly annoyed, even annoyed by Lloris’s answers. I can understand that he is not comfortable with the subject, but it gave sometimes ridiculous answers. For example, he believed that homophobic insults on a pitch or in the stands were part of folklore. When I asked him if he had ever been confronted as captain with the beginning of confidence from a teammate, he did not understand that we could talk about that in a locker room. For him, it was about intimacy. There is however a social life around the clubs, it is normal. Of course, he told us that we had to respect everyone, but that doesn’t go any further.

“We asked for an entire list of players for a clip against homophobia. We were told: “No, he has a toothache”, “He is too famous, we are not going to ask him to participate”. »

There was also talk of a clip shot to fight against homophobia with players from the France team, but it has still not been released. Why ?
We had an agreement with the FFF which was the fruit of a long process, but I don’t even see why we would continue our partnership with the Federation today, we will continue without them. That day, three players from Les Bleus participated: Jonathan Clauss, whom they sent to the pipe-breaker for his first selection and he was very nice; Jules Koundé, very comfortable on the issue, to the point that I was in awe of his speech; and Hugo Lloris, the captain. We had asked for an entire list of players, then we were told: “No, he has a toothache” , “He is too well known, we are not going to ask him to participate anyway” … It was really pitiful. We did the shoot in March and they gave me a pretty good four-minute pre-edit a month ago. Since then, I haven’t had any news. I’m not very surprised. When I heard people working in communication at the FFF say: “I went to Doha, we have no lessons to give them. » How can we say that we are givers of lessons?
The paradox is that last September, France was one of the eight European federations to express their desire to see their captains wear the rainbow armband in the League of Nations and at the World Cup. How can this reversal of the situation be explained?
We pass for puppets, there are no other words. They do not master the subject, they do not understand its importance. But what happened in the meantime? If we have to keep our mouths shut because we make a lot of money with Qatar, let us say so, let it be clear. Lloris takes refuge behind FIFA which has not yet given its agreement, it is a false excuse. Other countries will do it, and if it is refused two hours before a meeting, we will know. If a game can’t be played because of an armband, that would still be incredible. I would have preferred that we avoid anticipating FIFA’s response and that we take a clear position. But it remains a thorny subject in football, and sport in general… We see so many efforts in professional clubs, amateurs and even in the LFP which is a great help. It is incomparable with the FFF, where governance is catastrophic at this level. It’s disgusting for all these people who lead by example.

“What is happening is destructive for all actions on the ground. How do you talk about all this to kids and volunteers when you have this example? »

What impact can this absence of initiatives at the FFF and in the French team have on the fight against homophobia on a daily basis in football?
What is happening is destructive to all field actions. How do you talk about all this to kids and volunteers when you have this example? We are asked for videos with players from the France team to raise awareness among young people. I went to many colleges, high schools, training centers to present my documentary Footballer and gay: at the heart of the taboo, and each time, the concluding scene with Antoine Griezmann is striking. When he says he would be proud to be able to help a homosexual teammate, it leaves a silence. And we could see that it had a positive impact on kids aged 13-14. Such a video would be essential for pedagogy in the field, who cares if it’s on TV.

Do you still have any hope of seeing the Blues take a clear position during this World Cup?

I still have hope because I believe in individual responsibility. We are so ridiculous, between President Le Graët and Lloris, to say that we have to adapt to the rules and cultures of the countries where we go. It looks like the National Assembly. It means that if you go somewhere where you hit on women and homosexuals, you have to respect it, that’s normal. They are so lamentable in their way of communicating and in their actions that they cannot go any lower. I hope they will think for five minutes or that people will explain to them that we can commit in a moderate way. Nobody asks them to make the revolution. I am not resigned, I do not imagine for a moment that they do not do a minimum for human rights, without it focusing only on homosexuality, but that it is a whole. Even if I would know deep down that it’s a question of image and that these people can’t make me dream. (In response to the Generation 2018 press release which announced its support for NGOs:) We will have to follow this more closely, it’s easy to say that we are going to give money…

Raphaël Varane wore a rainbow armband against Austria in September

As a football fan, are you going to follow the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal?
I was a footballer before I even realized that I was gay and I counted on this sport to help me assume myself. I’ve always watched the matches, but there I don’t particularly want to. It is possible that I put myself in front of a match of the Blues or another one an evening… In truth, that thing does not resemble anything. From Russia, it was necessary to prepare for the defense of human rights and the fight against homophobia. We talked about it at the Euro, in Hungary, where we saw Neuer wearing the rainbow armband or Germany multiplying the symbols. What has been done in the meantime? Nothing, we don’t anticipate, we don’t think. By passion for football, it is possible that I stop in front of a match, but I do not have the flame for this World Cup.

Finally, are you optimistic about the evolution of the acceptance of homosexuality in football?
(He thinks.) It’s hard to say because given the recent positions taken, what a step back… I’m so sorry that I find it difficult to answer you. There were advances and political will from professional and amateur clubs. There are a lot of young people who are regularly made aware of the issue, with socio-educational staff. We see young people who are open to the issue and who are wondering. But all this remains very fragile due to the conservatism of traditions, culture, education and religions. I have already been told: “My tradition forbids me to be gay, I can’t even imagine having a gay kid. » It is something that is coming back in force and it is worrying. We had to take action with the FFF to train educators, referees… I met the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, who was very comfortable with the subject. When he says that we have to drive out homophobia in sport and in stadiums, it’s brilliant. But who does what, with what means, and how? Apart from the LFP which is moving, just look at the inaction of the FFF and the ministers. What does Isabelle Lonvis-Rome, the minister responsible for equality between women and men, do? What does Marlène Schiappa do with associations? Amélie Oudea-Castera’s positions are the opposite of those of the two previous ministers, Roxana Maracineanu and Laura Flessel. What worries me is that the population advances while political will recedes, we no longer understand anything.

Interview by Clément Gavard

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