Newcastle's Muslim players may boycott new shirt over 'usury'

Eslam Omar, Wednesday 10 Oct 2012

Citing religious conflict, four Muslim players at England's Newcastle United might refuse to wear the club’s shirt with its new sponsor, a short-term loan company

Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse - Newcastle United
A Snap shot of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse Newcastle United's players (Youtube video)

English Premier League side Newcastle United is facing controversy after they signed a four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Wonga, a short-term loan company.

"It's a sad indictment of the profit-at-any-price culture at Newcastle United," city council leader Nick Forbes told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Muslim players Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa would cause the club another problem if they refuse to wear the jersey.

Islam prohibits benefiting from lending or receiving money and Islamic banks say they don’t receive benefits from loans or pay fixed interests.

“The Islamic system is based on a non-interest-based system of transaction,” Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, told The Independent, adding "There are two aspects to this. We have the rulings of the religious law and we have the individual’s choice and decision on how they want to follow or not follow that rule.”

Seeking to maximise sponsorship revenues, the club defended the deal with Wonga after ending a sponsorship deal with finance company Virgin Money, which was worth only 3 million pounds ($4.8 million) a year.

"We are building a club that can regularly compete for top honours at the highest level," Derek Llambias, the Newcastle United managing director told Reuters.

"As everyone knows, a strong commercial programme is vital to this goal and I am delighted to welcome Wonga into the fold as our lead commercial partner, alongside Puma and Sports Direct."

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