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Newcastle United

Is the Papiss Cisse row over sponsorship the first of many?

The on-going dispute between Papiss Cisse and Newcastle United has been heightened by his recent withdrawal from their pre-season tour to Portugal after refusing to wear their new kit.

Newcastle United are being sponsored by Wonga this year and Cisse is objecting to it on the grounds that the Muslim faith does not support the act of making money from money-also known as usury.

Neither club nor player are willing to concede and he has so far trained on his own in his own unsponsored kit, this could well result in Cisse being sold especially after refusing to travel to Portugal with the squad.

I think when it comes to religious beliefs in football there has to be a certain amount of sensitivity when handling situations that arise from both the club and the player in question and I think a club have a duty to be respectful about a player’s beliefs, but I think in this case Cisse is slightly hypocritical in his actions in order to most likely secure a move away from the club.

Last year Newcastle were sponsored by Virgin Money who are a loan company as well as a bank and this year they have switched their sponsor to Wonga-another money lending system and asides from the difference in reputation they are both loan companies and they both make money from money in earning interest.

I’m not disputing that Wonga are a morally inept company, they prey on the vulnerable by offering payday loans to low income and benefit users and charge them over 2000% interest! They take an incredible amount of money from people who can’t really afford to live day to day as it is and therefore cause more debt in the country.

Virgin Money are a much bigger company in terms of reputation but they still have loans at high interest and whilst their criteria is more astute lending to people who can afford it more the fact is they still partake in usury by offering personal loans, mortgages, current and saving accounts and credit cards that they charge interest on.

I can fully understand Cisse’s objection to wear a Wonga sponsored shirt according to the rules of his religion but he using his beliefs as a reason and he can’t after wearing the Virgin Money shirt last season with no complaints whatsoever. It’s possible he has an issue with Wonga, the company itself and not the money lending but a player cannot dictate to a club what he can and can’t wear without a justifiable honest answer. He is not playing fair and holding Newcastle to ransom and they are dealing with it in the correct way, other than selling him I see no way of this situation being resolved between club and player and it is sad for Newcastle that they lose out on a regular team player so early into pre-season.

It is in circumstances like these that it becomes more obvious that the western world and Muslim society still struggle to reach a financial harmony with each other and with more questionable companies investing in football advertising every year there will be more issues like this in the future.