Mohamed Camara high-fives coach Adi Hutter during Monaco's match against Nantes. GETTY IMAGES

The Ligue 1 initiative to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities was widely celebrated this weekend, but a few footballers, like Mohamed Camara, boycotted the league-mandated goodwill action, a decision Amelie Oudea-Catera deemed “unacceptable'.

LGBTQ rights are still under threat worldwide and France is no different. The country that will host the 2024 Olympic Games this Summer has been making a conscious efforts to promote equality and freedom for people of all races, religions, genders and sexual orientations; yet some resistance still lingers, especially in a sport like football, where the presence of the gay community is seldom acknowledged and been more often than not frowned upon when made evident.

Many times, dissent rears its ugly head even in the most noble of causes, and the initiative to don a LGBTQ rights badge on all the footballer’s jerseys the last date of the regular season was met with defiance by none other than Monaco’s star midfielder Camara, who covered it with a piece of white tape on Sunday during his game against Nantes.

France's sports minister did not mince words after hearing of the defiance and called for "the toughest sanctions" against Camara and his club, deeming said actions “unacceptable”. The 24-year-old from Mali, where LGBTQ rights are under constant attack, also declined to pose with the rest of his teammates for a pre-match photograph where both squads stood behind a banner backing the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia, and Transphobia.

"Such behaviour must be met with the toughest sanctions both for the player but also for his club which allowed him to do it," Oudea-Castera told French radio station RTL. "I've told the Professional Football League (LFP) what I thought about it."

Asked about Camara's snub after the game, in which he scored one of the goals in a 4-0 win over Nantes, Monaco coach Adi Hutter deflected any collective blame, deeming his footballer’s decision as an individual act. "First of all, I would like to say that we, as a club, support the operation organised by the league," said Hutter in reference to the league-wide mandate. "It was a personal initiative. There will be an internal discussion with him about this situation. I will not comment further."

According to many non-governmental Human Rights organisations and media reports, LGBTQ issues remain a taboo topic in Mali, where members of said communities face persecution and public humiliation, often being forced to live double lives. While same-sex sexual activity is not explicitly prohibited, the prevailing culture, ancestral traditions and religious beliefs of most Mali citizens shape their view of such activities and non-traditional gender roles as immoral and evil acts.

After the fact, which sparked a myriad of reactions on social media, Camara posted a photo on his Instagram account, where he appears in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, praising “Allah’s power and guidance towards the righteous path”.

Homophobic chanting from supporters has been rampant throughout League 1 stadiums this season and past seasons, and a YouGov survey revealed this week that French football fans were found to be the most likely to say that homophobia is widespread in the sport in their country.

For Jeff Puech, co-founder of the Inclusive Sport Foundation, Camara’s incident is more the exception than the rule. "There were only two players throughout Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, (Camara) and Nantes' Egyptian forward Mostafa Mohamed who I think didn't play for 'diplomatic' reasons," Puech pointed out to AFP. "They are two players too many, but not a single coach, not a single official, refused to sport the logo.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Monaco general manager Thiago Scuro apologized. "As an organisation, we support the League's action," he told AFP. Scuro said he had called Arnaud Rouger, director general of the LFP, on Monday "to apologise as a club for what happened."

"Mo did this for religious reasons," said Scuro. "It's a very sensitive subject at all levels, because we also have to respect all religions. But as an organisation, we are very sad about this episode and we want to make it clear that we do not support this." While Scuro said that any sanctions against the player would be "handled internally", he acknowledged that the club could be punished.

Puech was quick to point out that, last year, four Toulouse players refused to showcase the logo, while none did so this time around. “We carried out a three-week workshop at the club, that effort has paid off," he added, while praising the LFP as the only professional sports body in France "that is doing a lot" at the current time. "I would like all the others to take part in a fundamental movement. But that will come."

The Olympics usually offer the chance for some communities to make their demands for justice and equality heard, although it is not always the case. The hope is for Paris 2024 to contribute in that regard.

On Monday, the International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons forecasted the upcoming Games will help make a difference regarding the perception of disabled persons and push their issues and rights back atop the list of the global agenda. “They will have a big impact on how people with disability are perceived around the world. We do believe they have been left behind. There is very little debate about persons with disability," he underlined, citing gender identity as an example. “We are a sporting movement, but we're also a movement for change. We want to change the world, and you can only change the world if you change perceptions," he advocated.