Mohammed Camara plays agaisnt Nantes. GETTY IMAGES

Mohammed Camara chose not to abide by the Ligue 1 mandate to don an anti-homophobia badge last weekend. social media backlash ensued, Monaco apologised, many Malian countrymen backed his actions and now the star midfielder is set to explain himself to the French Football federation.

"The disciplinary committee has decided to summon the player Mohamed Camara for its next session which will be held on Thursday May 30, 2024," the French Professional League (PFL) said in a statement, AFP reported.

While the Ligue 1 initiative to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities was widely celebrated the past weekend, a few footballers, like Camara, boycotted the league-mandated goodwill action, a decision France's sports minister Amelie Oudea-Catera deemed “unacceptable”, while others vented on social media.

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

In a blatant effort to display his non-conformity with the campaign, Camara noticeably taped over the logo on the front of his shirt as he played for Monaco against Nantes, a 4-0 win in which he scored a goal. The 24-year-old also chose not to take part in a group photo in which both teams stood behind a banner in support of the LGBTQ community.

While his country's football federation still backed his right to freedom of expression, the footballer was summoned to next week’s French football disciplinary hearing, where he will have to explain his actions.

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.

Camara, now a polarising figure in France, has won widespread support back home, however, for respecting his own personal and religious convictions, and the Malian Football Federation published a statement defending the player’s exercise of his freedom of expression. “Players are citizens like any other whose fundamental rights must be protected in all circumstances," the statement said.

Mohammed Camara salutes coach Adi Hutter with a tape over LGTBQ campaign badge. GETTY IMAGES
Mohammed Camara salutes coach Adi Hutter with a tape over LGTBQ campaign badge. GETTY IMAGES

His club coach, German Adi Hutter, said they would have an internal discussion about the incident, and Monaco had previously apologised for the snub. "Mo did this for religious reasons," said Monaco's general manager Thiago 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."

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”.