French Gay Football Team Says Muslim Players Snubbed Them

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An amateur club of gay football players in Paris said Tuesday its members were victims of homophobia when a team of Muslim players refused to play a match against them.

The Paris Foot Gay team says it received an e-mail Saturday from the Creteil Bebel club canceling a match scheduled for the following day.

"Because of the principles of our team, which is a team of devout Muslims, we can't play against you," the e-mail said, according to Paris Foot Gay. The e-mail continued with: "Our convictions are much more important than a simple football match."

Paris Foot Gay said in a statement that it asked the amateur league to sanction Creteil Bebel.

"This team refused to show up simply so it didn't have to play against homosexuals," the statement said.

Zahir Belgarbi, identified as a spokesman for Creteil Bebel, told France-Info radio that he apologized if "anyone felt upset or hurt" about the decision.

But "as a Muslim, I have the right to decide not to play against homosexuals because I don't agree with their ideas," he said.