When the Chennai Super Kings stepped out to play their debut 2021 Indian Premier League game, a sponsorship patch was visibly missing on Moeen Ali’s jersey. The decision to remove the name of the alcohol brand was taken to respect the faith of the English cricketer.
Today in the UK, a non-profit organization, Nujum Sports, hopes that more sports organizations will demonstrate such cultural and religious sensitivity. To help educate and encourage football clubs in the UK to achieve this goal, the group launched the “Muslim Athletes Charter” last Saturday.
âMoeen played in the IPL and we saw his franchise take away a sponsor he didn’t want. He didn’t ask for it, but they did anyway. This is the awareness we want, âNujum Sports Founder and CEO Ebadur Rahman told The Indian Express.
âThe idea (for the charter) arose after talking to many (football) clubs over the past few months. We have been supporting athletes and clubs for about a year now. There was a need, we felt it. We wanted something to support our Muslim athletes in the UK.
So far, the charter has been warmly received by football clubs. No less than five Premier League teams, including newly promoted Brentford and Watford, and 15 teams from the English Second Division League have signed up.
The charter provides 10 points that clubs must integrate to make it more welcoming to Muslim athletes. This includes, but is not limited to, the non-consumption of alcohol (prohibited by Islamic law), the provision of a prayer space on the site or the training ground for the players, the placing provision of halal food, the provision of players being allowed to visit a mosque on Fridays when they are not competing, and players are allowed to fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Muslims are the UK’s second largest and fastest growing religious community, with around 70 Muslim players in Premier League clubs,” newly promoted Premier League team spokesman Brentford said. , Kevin Coleman, quoted by the BBC.
âHelping clubs to help these players be themselves at home and at work is invaluable. This charter and the support that goes with it is something that is needed and will be welcomed by clubs. “
According to Business Insider, there are 250 Muslim players in the top for the rise of English football.
Meanwhile, from their official Twitter account, Watford posted: âWe are proud to be among the first Premier League clubs to pledge our support for the Muslim Athletes Charter. “
In addition, a sixth division team in Sweden, FK Cosmos, has accepted the charter, and an English county cricket team is also in talks with Rahman’s organization.
âOnce our charter is nationally accepted across all sports, you will see a big difference between clubs,â says Rahman, who previously worked with the English Football Association (FA).
âSome Premier League clubs have accepted it. We have a club in Sweden, and there is also a county cricket club that accepted it. We have started talking to the England and Wales Cricket Council (ECB) to sign the charter as well. “
Currently, Rahman says steps have been taken to make Muslim athletes more comfortable. So much so that alcohol-free champagne was presented to the winners after the FA Cup and the League Cup (Carabao Cup) after the final.
âThe UK is very open to change. We found a lot of support rather than obstacles. And (non-Muslim players) have been very receptive. The clubs have been great too, âsaid Rahman.
The charter also calls for arrangements to be made for fans, such as the availability of halal food, a prayer space and alcohol-free areas on the site.
So far, Rahman’s organization has received “no backlash”. One of the reasons is the winds of change blowing through the UK, he says.
Star Muslim Premier League players like Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah have had a big impact on the changing perception of faith in the country. In the latter’s case, there is a famous fan song with the lyrics like, “If he scores a few more then I’ll be a Muslim tooâ¦ He’s good enough for me, so I want to sit down.” in a mosque. “
Pogba had recently removed a bottle of beer placed in front of him for a press conference after an ongoing European Championships match.
âThere is no doubt that a role model like Mo Salah has played a role in understanding our religion,â Rahman adds.
âHaving models like him and Pogba playing at the highest level helps. But in general in the UK we are slowly starting to see changes. Little by little, but we are starting to see it definitively. “