Mathieu Debuchy and Olivier Giroud, players with the French national team, celebrated a goal against Germany this past Wednesday with a kiss on the mouth and predictably, the webz went wild.
According to French English-language newspaper The Local, #Debuchy was still trending on Twitter by Thursday morning; the same paper described the kiss as “passionate”.
This past week marked the third annual Football v Homophobia Initiative (FvH), a global day of action by anti-homophobia in football organization, The Justin Campaign. Their work, along with the efforts of other groups like Red Card Homophobia and Kick it Out, has resulted in some pretty big wins for the movement over this past year.
Nearly one year ago, Swedish footballer Anton Hysén came out as gay in Offside magazine, becoming the first male pro player to do so since Justin Fashanu, and reigniting the decades-old discussion of whether a pro footballer could be out on the pitch. Then, in June of 2011, during the Women’s World Cup (WWC) the issue was raised in the women’s game when allegations that the Nigerian women’s team’s coach Eucharia Uche had removed players for suspected lesbianism.
But when autumn comes the game changes, simmering down from a fever to a flush, and there was a bit of room to breathe for those who live the beautiful game. The players went back home to start training for their next season, FIFA continued to deny allegations of homophobia (and racism and corruption), and anti-homophobia advocates… well, they kept advocating.
And there were successes. On February 20, 2012, at Wembley Stadium, the Football Association (FA) launched its new anti-homophobia and transphobia action plan, entitled “Opening Doors And Joining In“. Nine days later, Debuchy and Giroud shared a celebratory kiss on the pitch.
As anyone who has played team sports knows, that moment of success — of completion — is heady, known to lead to ass-patting, hugging, hair-ruffling, and yes… kissing. Was this a “gay” kiss? Who knows. But I do think that the sight of players revelling unselfconsciously in that celebratory moment is a positive for the sport. It just might mean that we’re a little less afraid.
Enjoy if for yourself, below.