MAINTENANCE. “10 years that it gnawed at me”: The former international judge tells his story

Nicolas Pottier has long waited, hesitating, to reveal his homosexuality in public. And then the former international football referee started on Monday. He tells.

What made you come out on Monday?

It’s been bothering me for 10 years. But I needed an angle of attack, an opportunity. She came up with a topical question about the Gana Gueye case. I had tweeted to condemn his position, a journalist called me. I thought it was time … I just think it can help things along the way. Help all those who go through the same thing as me but do not dare to express it. Children aged 14, 15 have an incredible courage to do so. Others do not or they are expelled from their families because of it.

“I lived hidden in the world of football”

How did you experience being gay in the world of football?

Hidden, long. I started judging in L1 at the age of 26, in 2005. For 5 years I lived totally hidden. Without anything in relation to social life. There is no question of going to gay bars. To risk being seen holding a boy’s hand. I lived only by arbitration, fearing to be exposed. In 2010, I told myself I was going to live my life and what would happen would happen. But it broke.

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What do you mean ?

With the suicide of a friend, gay, in 2011. I was caught in a spiral. I almost went to the end of hell. I tried to handle this on my own. I felt strong. I was not. Three weeks later, there were physical tests to go to the Euro hope. I missed them. I was suspended by the League. I gnawed at my brakes for two months, then passed the tests for the L1 season. I missed them too. The negative spiral began, I declared Crohn’s disease that was suspected cancer. I had no news about my colleagues for two years. And then, in 2013, there was marriage for everyone. I was able to express myself around me. With my parents. Get new friends. Live positively. I even went back to judging for 7 months. Passed the tests. But I saw that everything had changed. I accepted myself again, but I pulled 15 years of lies behind me. I thought it was someone else’s fault, but it was mine too.

“Some were angry at me for exposing myself”

Referees, players, did you know you were gay?

Players, I do not think. Judges yes. And then some were mad at me because I was exposing myself, because it also risked exposing them.

Do you think there are many gays in the world of football?

Why wouldn’t there be that if we think there are 10% of gays or lesbians in society? Maybe a little less in sports, but we are not at 0% either … I can see I feel things. But there are so many problems, risks to be revealed in a short career …

Nicoasl Pottier. © Western France

“Homophobic insults motivated me”

How did you handle homophobic insults in the stadiums?

It motivated me. I remember a Lorient – Bordeaux in 2010 or 2011, where we were pampered for 45 minutes with “Judges, fuck …” This is one of the purest matches we have judged …

What feedback have you been getting since you came out?

There are a few jerks. But above all, thousands of positive relays on social networks. Or Laura Georges, the Secretary General of the French Football Federation, who called me. This can help the Fed … We needed a No. 1, one to get started. I did it. I made mistakes, I deleted them. I’m not afraid. I freed myself from a weight, from something that had blocked me since 2013 and disappeared. Sportingly, I regret that my career ended in 2013. I could say a lot of other things. But humanly, if I had not accepted myself, I would not be the person I am today. I’m fine with myself. I feel strong. »

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