Mohamed Camara played for Monaco against Nantes in Ligue 1 on Sunday with tape covering the two anti-homophobia logo badges on his jersey. | Nicolas Tucat / AFP via Getty Images

Monaco midfielder Mohamed Camara publicly snubbed French football’s annual anti-homophobia initiative Sunday, choosing to boycott the message in three different ways.

Camara scored in his team’s 4-0 Ligue 1 home win over Nantes, who were also caught up in controversy over the campaign for the second year running due to a player’s non-appearance.

The activation had already been significantly scaled back by Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP) chiefs, following consultation with players who were no longer being asked to wear jerseys featuring Pride rainbow shirt numbers.

Instead, only the small LFP logo on shirt sleeves was in rainbow colors. Added to jerseys were badges showing the campaign logo of the word ‘Homophobie’ with a red cross through it.

Camara, a 24-year-old Mali international, showed total disregard for this anti-discrimination drive even before kick-off at the Stade Louis II when he refused to stand with players from both teams behind the campaign logo for a pre-match photo.

Fans then quickly spotted that the former Red Bull Salzburg star was playing with black tape over the rainbow LFP logo on his sleeve, and white tape over the campaign logo on the front of his jersey.

The situation was further exacerbated by Prime Video Sport France pundit Jimmy Briand, a former France international, saying on air that “respect” should be shown towards Camara for sticking with his convictions.

On social media, several independent groups were furious at Camara’s snub and called for action.

Rouge Direct asked Monaco why Camara was even allowed to play in the match.

“He ostensibly sends a message of homophobia,” the group posted on X. Tagging in the LFP, they added: “Are you interested in sanctioning these behaviors once in a while?”

LGBTQ-inclusive club PanamPride FC, which had previously worked with the LFP on its campaign, wrote: “Everything is clearer: it is not the rainbow flocking that posed the problem but rather the homophobia of too many players, which is allowed to pass!

“What a shame! Could we imagine similar behavior with the anti-racism badge?!?”

Yoann Lemaire, a former amateur footballer who came out as gay in 2004 and who has worked extensively with the LFP and the French Football Federation to deliver educational workshops via his organization Foot Ensemble, wrote on X: “We can only regret this behavior and that his club and the referee let him do that, hide the logo and color the LFP logo.

“This is homophobia… why let it happen? Monaco? Ashamed.”

Monaco coach Adi Hütter said at the post-match media conference: “First of all, I would like to say that we, as a club, support the operation organised by the league.”

Referring to Camara, he added: “For his part, it was a personal initiative. There will be an internal discussion with him about this situation. I will not comment further.”

The result on the final day of the season confirmed Monaco as Ligue 1 runners-up, securing them qualification to the UEFA Champions League.

At the time of writing, there had been no club comment from AS Monaco or from the LFP, on whose website the campaign was promoted with an article titled “Let’s Clear Discrimination, Let’s Clear Homophobia!”

On Monday, French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra was a guest on RTL Matin, one of the country’s biggest morning radio shows. She criticised Camara’s “unacceptable behavior” and called for charges against both the player and his club.

Meanwhile, missing from the matchday squad of Monaco’s beaten opponents Nantes was Egypt international striker Mohamed Mostafa.

The 26-year-old was fined by his club in May 2023 for refusing to play in the game dedicated to the campaign against Toulouse, who left out five players.

Mostafa is Nantes’ top scorer this term with eight goals in Ligue 1. His absence for this weekend’s fixture had been flagged in advance with no explanation offered, suggesting he was not carrying an injury.

The Ligue 1 controversy comes towards the end of a season when there have again been multiple instances of homophobic chanting from supporters.

In results issued this week from a new YouGov survey, football fans in France were found to be the most likely to say that homophobia is widespread in the sport in their country.

Compared to fans in Italy, Germany, the UK and Spain — where the other so-called “Big Five” leagues in Europe operate — those in France were also most likely to see homophobia as a serious problem in professional football nationally.

Camara’s actions Sunday, which cannot be interpreted as anything other than opposing efforts to stamp out homophobia in football, are only likely to solidify that view.