committed to homophobia, FC Paris Arc-en-ciel is a club that is “more than football”

Wednesday’s Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia comes amid controversy in football over awareness.

The colors of the rainbow do not go unnoticed in the gray evening. They adorn the crest of FC Paris Arc-en-ciel, a club in the north-east of the capital. On Monday 15 May, his men’s team faces Balard, the first opponent of the FSGT (Federation sportive et gymnastics du travail) championship, on the lawn of the Jules Noël sports centre, beaten by an abnormally cold wind.

A few days after the refusal of some Ligue 1 players to wear shirts with rainbow numbers, in view of the world day against homophobia and transphobia (Wednesday 17 May), the commitment of FC Paris Arc-en-ciel takes on a particular resonance.

“Sometimes there are fights”

Founded in 1997, Paris Arc en Ciel is the oldest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) football club in France. “It is a club oriented towards gay and lesbian audiences, and which aims to be a welcoming space for those who cannot necessarily be in the traditional changing rooms, where they can be confronted, for example, with homophobic remarks”, says Benoît Angelini, the president of the club, a few hours before the match. All in a framework of benevolence and relaxation, as evidenced by the good humor shared during the warm-up.

With 160 licensees for the 2022-2023 season, around the same number of players, the club continues to convey this message on a daily basis. Iregistered in the FFF championship for girls, FSGT for boys, the teams display the rainbow logo throughout Paris and its surroundings. “There is a mentality in football, a part afflicted by racism, homophobia, which I support less and less, in which I don’t find myself”explains Jonas Foureaux, one of the two player-coaches of the team, among the last adjustments when compiling the game sheet. “I am she realized that it was important to wear other things. I wanted to join a club that is a little more than football, that has an ideology.

Tom Masson and Jonas Foureaux, the two coaches of FC Paris Arc en Ciel, May 15, 2023. (MAYLICE LAVOREL / FRANCEINFO SPORTS)

To combat homophobia, but also any other form of discrimination, the club acts above all during the tournaments organized for these occasions. “These tournaments that want to be militant, are both sports tournaments, but always with militant aspects of awareness that are expressed”explains Benoît Angelini. This awareness can also be done through interventions with young people in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, where the club is based. “We try to start a dialogue through quizzes, questionnaires, to start the discussion in a somewhat playful way to be able to really discuss, to see the relationship with all LGBT issues”continues the president.

Exchanges that find an echo within the men’s team itself, which brings together different players, but all committed to the fight against discrimination. “It’s not always easy, sometimes there are clashes, but that’s what gives the most satisfaction”assures Tom Masson, the other coach, at the entrance to the changing rooms, monitoring the arrival of his players, between greetings and waiters.

A fight on their scale

For club players, dialogue and awareness work is needed to move the lines. There is a need to understand, to deconstruct representations. We really have to work on this, with all the audience”plead Benedict Angelini. A job in which FC Paris Arc-en-ciel is engaged on its own scale, but which it also wishes to see grow, and carried forward by the institutions. We would like the FFF to be more involved in these issues. We were able to challenge them to try to dialogue, but I think the institutions are not very sensitive to these issues.regrets the president.

Especially since the theme is more current than ever, as evidenced by the refusal of some players from various Ligue 1 clubs to wear the rainbow jersey of awareness this weekend, during the 35th matchday. “We discussed it with the team players. I am angry with those who refused. He’s only asked once a year to wear a rainbow flocked shirt, I don’t understand the refusals.”, says Jonas Foureaux, his features closed under his cap. He dreams of one day seeing the big players take a stand and lend their support to change things.

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