The French rugby team are to wear rainbow laces to show solidarity with gay player Gareth Thomas, after he was subjected to a homophobic attack.
French rugby team chief Serge Simon announced the move after former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, one of the few openly gay figures in the sport, was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff.
Thomas uploaded an emotional video to social media on November 18, in which he appeared with a bruised and a cut on his face and explained he was the victim of “a hate crime for my sexuality” the previous day.
The player received an outpouring of love from across the sport after the news spread.
Serge Simon, the vice-president of the French Rugby Federation, sent a message to Thomas from the entire French national rugby team.
“All of French Rugby is with you.”
— Serge Simon
He wrote: “All of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic [attack] you’ve been victim of.
“To show our support, the French rugby players will wear rainbow laces during the France – Fiji game on Saturday night.
“We’re all in with you in this matter.”
France is set to face Fiji on November 24 at the Stade de France in Paris.
Gareth Thomas says merci to French Rugby team
Gareth Thomas was overwhelmed by the gesture.
In a response, Thomas wrote: “After the physical scars have healed, I feel I have to say an unbelievable THANK YOU from me and all in the LGBT community for the support I have received. Truly humbled.
“My mental scars will stay with me for some time, but will drive me to fight even more for a world where acceptance of everyone is normal.
“To the French rugby federation, merci. The players wearing rainbow laces in solidarity is an immense sign of inclusion.”
A 16 year old met with Gareth Thomas to apologise for the attack on Sunday, after the player sought restorative justice instead of criminal charges.
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In his statement, Thomas said: “To the group that attacked me, please stay true to your word and apologies. Believe you all when you said sorry.”
Thomas added: “I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way.
“And also to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hurt us.
“But, unfortunately for them, there’s a lot more who want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message.”
Sporting figures showed their love for Gareth Thomas
Figures from the sporting world have offered Gareth Thomas their support.
Sports presenter Gabby Logan tweeted: “Loads of love big man xx.”
Former English rugby player Maggie Alphonsi posted: “I’m so sorry this has happened to you Gareth. Thank you for speaking out about it and bringing this to our attention. It’s sad to think there are still small minded people out there.
“They are the minority but the majority are with you. You are a true role model to me and us all x.”
ITV sports presenter Jill Douglas said: “Well put Alfie [Thomas’ nickname] – very sorry you had to experience this, but a typically positive and uplifting reaction. Big.”