Senegal's President Macky Sall on Tuesday tweeted his support for Paris Saint-Germain footballer Idrissa Gana Gueye, who is facing homophobia accusations in France.
"I support Idrissa Gana Gueye. His religious beliefs must be respected," he wrote on Twitter.
The Senegalese international midfielder missed a Ligue 1 game against Montpellier Saturday during which players were to wear rainbow jerseys in support of the LGBTQ movement. He was absent for "personal reasons" rather than injury, according to coach Mauricio Pochettino.
That prompted radio station RMC to posit that he had deliberately avoided the game so as not to wear the shirt.
Gueye also missed a match last year on a day dedicated to the fight against homophobia.
In Senegal, Gueye and his fellow players are adored. He was part of the team that won the country's first African Cup of Nations in February against Egypt.
In Senegal, where 95 percent of the population is Muslim, homosexuality is widely considered a deviance. "Acts against nature" between people of the same sex are punishable by one to five years in prison.
Messages of support for Gueye have poured in on social media and from leading figures in politics, the arts and sport.