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News Code: 662

 

Muslim Culture on English Football Pitches

"Arsenal would prefer me to not fast, but they understand this is a special moment for me and they try to accommodate things to make me better," Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby, 27, told BBC Sport on Friday, July 5. 

Newcastle United footballer Demba Ba, 28, admits he has had some issues with managers about Ramadan, but says he has been steadfast. 

"Every time I had a manager that was not happy with it, I've said: 'Listen, I'll do it. If my performance is still good, I'll keep playing; if it's bad you drop me on the bench, that's it,'" 

Diaby and Ba were among 40 other Muslim stars in the English Premier league. 

The Muslim existence on English football pitches dated back to 1992 Tottenham's Spanish midfielder Nayim was the only Muslim player in the league. 

Seeking new talented players for the league, scouts brought new players from West Africa and Paris to become global stars. 

The growing influx of Muslim players has been fueled by the internationalization of football. 

On 5 February, 2012, Newcastle United played Aston Villa at St James' Park. 

Scoring his team’s goal after thirty minutes, Ba raced to the corner flag and was joined by Senegalese compatriot Papiss Cisse to prostrate to Allah. 

Named as the best player in a game, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure politely refused a Champagne bottle award saying he does not drink because he is a Muslim. 

When Liverpool won the League Cup final in 2012, players had the sensitivity to move the clothes of their team doctor, a devout Muslim, out of the changing rooms so that alcohol wasn't sprayed over them. 

Moreover, Muslims footballers are provided with halal food, have the option to shower separately from the rest of the team and are given time and space for prayer. 

Seeing all those Muslim stars, fans were also getting an education in Muslim practices. 

Children playing football in the parks of Newcastle have been spotted falling to their knees as if in prayer themselves after scoring a goal. 

Though many kids do not know what it means, many saw it as a sign that Muslim practices are becoming a more familiar part of popular British culture. 

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
 Source: On Islam