An intriguing title you might ask. And you would be right. What is the meaning behind it? All will become clear shortly.
There is an increasing connection between religion and football?
Well. In this world of mass sporting investment and expansion worldwide, certain things have crept in which are altering the face of certain sports.
Things like the race barrier, ala Jackie Robinson in baseball, Jack Johnson in boxing, and many others, including the introduction of females, and people with disabilities, while all welcome are not the topic of this article.
This new part of the game is displays of religion, but not the traditional Catholic Vs Protestant, which has long soured Scottish and Irish football, but the introduction of Islam, and Catholicism from a different perspective.
I grew up in an era of Celtic-Rangers rivalry. One of the main things which rocked Scottish football was when a Catholic player signed for Ranger, a Protestant club, after previously playing for Celtic, who are their fierce rivals and a Catholic club. Not being a particularly religious person, I could not see what all the fuss was about, but this was a big no-no in the world of Glasgow. This was my first real exposure to religion in football.
Displays of allegiance to various religions is now becoming more and more apparent in the modern game.
From reading some articles, there have been changes made by the FA in the UK, to accommodate Muslims, such as not giving champagne to the man of the match if he is a Muslim, and also arranging matches so as to not coincide with Ramadan.
I have always had the belief that sport and religion, just like religion and politics should not mix, and over the last few years, the emergence of some of the greatest football players as Muslims and Catholics, is going to change the complete complexion of the game. Not the game itself. The basic game will always be the same. What i am talking about it the whole social scene, the fans, followers, and the whole ethos.
Fans identify less with the players as sportsmen, but more a followers of the same religion.
The culture of beer disappearing completely. Football was built on working classes, and working class people have a common social factor. Drinking. Before the game, a few pints. After the game, back to the pub for a few more pints and talk about the game.
The ‘working class’ aspect has all but gone. This has been happening more and more but mainly due to things such as corporate hospitality, businessmen, wealthy benefactors, and multi-millionaire players.
Players lives no longer mirror the fans. There is absolutely nothing that fans and modern players have in common. In fact the only time fans see the player is when they are arriving or leaving the clubs in their Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys etc…, at security filled events, meet the fans sessions, and possibly when they do charity work. Other than that, the two are totally separate.
Will stadiums have to remove all signs of Christianity (Protestant) and at the same time install religious idols or have prayer rooms made mandatory?
Are matches going to have to stop for prayers if they are happening at the same time?
Will Catholic players refuse to play non-catholic, or Muslim refuse to play non-Muslims.
Can players refuse to play for clubs if the sponsors or backers support or advertise something they disagree with ( eg: Non-Halal products)?
Another example I can use is the emergence of Qatar (a Muslim country) to host the World Cup in 2022. This is the 1st time an Islamic country has held the competition. There are many things to consider.
Multitudes of non-Muslim fans will descend on the country. How will they be treated? Will they have to adhere to the system? Will they have to be monitored to ensure they do not flout religious law? Will female fans be allowed in grounds or to socialize with male fans? Will females be able to dress scantily, or sexily (whatever the word are…)? This is a direction which is a step into the unknown. Will it reinforce the appeal of the game or reduce it? Only time will tell.
We seems to be heading down a road which could spell danger. not violence (I hope), but changing the complete landscape of the game.