A few days ago, Papiss Cisse apparently told Newcastle United not only that he wished to be one of the highest paid players at the club, but that he would also not wear next year’s kit with new sponsor Wonga.
Cisse, a practising Muslim, cited Sharia law that states one must not benefit from lending money to others. Wonga is an online lending company headquartered in London.
The Northumbria police (Newcastle’s police force) have now gotten involved after some fans responded angrily on Cisse’s Facebook page with racial abuse. “We have been made aware of abusive comments made on Facebook,” said Northumbria Chief Supt Dianne Winship. “Northumbria Police take all reports of abuse very seriously and enquiries are being conducted.”
The irony of the situation is that the new sponsorship deal with Wonga will bring in significantly more money than their previous deal with Virgin Money. That extra money could be used to make improvements to the squad – for example, to improve Cisse’s contract.
The Senegalese international arrived at the club in the January 2012 transfer window and signed a 5-1/2 year deal.
There is a precedent on a situation like this. Islamic striker Frederic Kanoute was allowed to wear an unbranded shirt after he refused to wear the logo for the 888.com gambling website on religious grounds when he played for Spanish side Seville. However, the Malian agreed to wear the shirt when the company agreed to remove him from any and all publicity campaigns.
Teammates Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheick Tiote are both practicing Muslims as well, but neither have come forward yet to voice any displeasure to the kit deal with Wonga.
The Senegalese striker scored 13 goals in 43 appearances last season in all competitions for Newcastle, but his scoring rate improved greatly when Demba Ba was sold in January.
The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.
[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]
Three moments that mattered
16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.
33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.
43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.
Man of the match: Luke Mulholland
Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)
Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.
[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]
United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.
All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.
[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]
Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.
You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.
[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.
[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.
The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.
Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.