Second French game in three days halted after homophobic banners

PSG's Thiago Silva celebrates at the end of the French League One soccer match between Metz and PSG in Strasbourg, eastern France, Friday Aug. 30, 2019. (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

METZ, France — A second French league game in three days was interrupted due to banners deemed homophobic as Paris Saint-Germain beat Metz 2-0 Friday.

Referee Frank Schneider stopped the game briefly after the banners were unfurled in the first half. He then allowed play to resume some minutes later when they were removed.

The latest incident came after Wednesday game between Nice and Marseille — also in the top tier — was halted for several minutes after Nice fans unfurled two banners with homophobic messages.

Metz fans appeared to be responding to that incident by targeting the French league (LFP), showing a banner saying "I won’t be on TV because my words are not very gay."

More banners referenced the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, which has links to PSG through owner Qatar Sports Investments.

The LFP is attempting to cut out homophobic chanting at games. Earlier this month, a referee stopped a second-division match between Nancy and Le Mans for about a minute after an initial appeal made over the speakers to stop homophobic chanting failed to have an effect.

Responding to a slew of injuries, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel handed debuts in Metz to 19-year-old goalkeeper Marcin Bulka and 17-year-old midfielder Adil Aouchiche, who became the club’s youngest player to start a league game.

Bulka started in place of Alphonse Areola, who is reportedly on the verge of completing a switch to Real Madrid in a swap-deal for Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

PSG’s injury worries deepened ahead of its Champions League opening game against Real Madrid on Sept. 18, with Angel Di Maria and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting both picking up knocks.

Choupo-Moting was coach Tuchel’s only recognized striker available after injuries to Edinson Cavani (hip) and Kylian Mbappe (hamstring) last weekend, while Brazil striker Neymar remained unavailable and wants to move away from the club.

Tuchel was also without the injured Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer, Ander Herrera and Abdou Diallo for the game at the Saint Symphorien stadium.

Di Maria opened the scoring with a penalty in the 11th minute after Juan Bernat was unceremoniously upended in the area.

The visitors had to wait till the end of the half before Choupo-Moting rose above the static Metz defence to head in Marco Verratti’s free kick in the 43rd.

Choupo-Moting had to go off toward the end. Di Maria needed treatment in injury time.

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