Video: French footballers’ ‘kiss’ goes viral and sparks new discussion about homophobia on the pitch

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A video clip of two French international footballers apparently kissing in front of a packed stadium has gone viral and entranced the French media. After scoring a goal in a friendly match against Germany, Olivier Giroud appeared to grab his teammate Mathieu Debuchy’s face and kiss him on the lips.

What seems to be nothing more than a celebratory moment of heterosexual bonding so fascinated the French populace that the clip has been played repeatedly on French national television – in slow-motion and from a variety of angles. Giroud told the press: “We simply brushed cheeks. I was just thanking him. I am an affectionate person – there is nothing more to it.”

Writing in Le Monde, Sophia Aram said: “Why do football players, more than others, need reassurance and to reassure others about their sexuality?” When will there be a real campaign against homophobia in football?”

Despite the FA’s Kick it Out campaign here in the UK, some 5,000 professional footballers contain no openly gay members in their ranks. The only British footballer to come out to date was Justin Fashanu in the early 1990s – a move that ultimately led to the end of his career and to his suicide.

In a recent interview, Fashanu’s brother John claimed that his late brother had not been gay and that his “coming out” was merely an attention-grabbing publicity stunt. He also claimed that there were “no gay footballers . . . it’s a macho man’s game.” Max Clifford, however, notorious for being privy to closely-guarded celebrity secrets, has said that he knows of “half a dozen” gay or bisexual professional, high-profile footballers. He did add however, that they would never dream of coming out “because their career would be finished.”

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