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The football pitch is no place for barmy displays of religious piety, says FIFA

FOOTBALL’S governing body has sparked controversy after disciplining the Brazilian team for overt displays of Christian piety during a match.

Stars including £56million Real Madrid forward Kaka and captain Lucio revealed T-shirts with slogans such as I Belong to Jesus and I Love God during the Confederations Cup final last month.

Ka-Ka is ga-ga over Jesus

Kaka is ga-ga over Jesus

Now FIFA has risked accusations of being “anti-religious” by reminding Brazil of its guidelines banning players from making displays of a personal, religious or political nature on the football pitch.

According to this report, a warning letter was sent to the Brazilian football federation “to remind them of the relevant regulations, so that such incidents do not recur in the future”.

Brazilian players, and Kaka in particular, are well-known for their strong religious beliefs and the squad and backroom staff formed a large circle and sank to their knees in prayer after the victory over the US at the end of last month.

In the subsequent team photographs, many players were wearing the Christian T-shirts, with captain Lucio prominent as he lifted the trophy.

But Brazil’s display of faith had an extra element of controversy because most of the players are Pentecostalists, whose leaders have been accused of violating religious freedom by attacking those of other faiths.

In the light of Brazil’s high-profile display of faith, seen around the world by millions of television viewers, the head of football in Denmark wants all religious statements banned from football.

Jim Stjerne Hansen, secretary general of the Danish football association, said:

Just as we reject political manifestations, we should also say no to religious ones. There are too many risks involved in clubs, for example, with people of different religious faiths.

FIFA rules specifically ban the use of T-shirts or other undergarments, but there is nothing that outlaws prayer or other displays of religious belief. Law 4, which deals with players’ equipment, reads:

Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising. The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements.

Brazil have escaped sanction, just as they did following a similar display of T-shirts after their 2005 Confederations Cup win, but football has made its intention clear to keep religion, as well as politics, out of sport.

10 Responses to “The football pitch is no place for barmy displays of religious piety, says FIFA”

  1. Angela_K says:

    We need a footballer to wear a t-shirt with the slogan “Religious belief is a mental illness” to redress the balance. Problem is, most footballers aren’t very bright and wouldn’t understand the message.

  2. barriejohn says:

    There`s an hilarious cartoon on the subject of Christian Persecution (which is what the religiots cry every time their efforts to proselytize are in any way curtailed) over at http://proudatheists.wordpress.com/ (Scroll down to see it, but don`t miss all the other good stuff as well!)

  3. MarkPogue says:

    Thanks barriejohn!

  4. barriejohn says:

    …and that`s why so many of them attribute their success to "God", Angela_K!

    See: http://thebeattitude.com/2009/06/08/jesus-is-a-hu… ask-dwight-howard/#comments

  5. Stonyground says:

    Angela_K, I don't think we need to redress the balance, That picture says to me "I am a mindless imbecile, please feel sorry for me" loud and clear. What an utterly mindless twat, broadcasting his infinite stupidity to millions around the entire planet.

  6. amber says:

    Mindless twat, that's broad minded and intelligent! For myself I think good for Kaka and any others , it's not fashionable to believe in Jesus and yet they proudly stand and say, 'We are not ashamed'

    This Jesus has saved me from a life of drink and depression, and who are you to know they are wrong? Sounds arrogant to me.

    In love Amber

  7. Maxwell says:

    It’s funny……football jerseys are riddled with logos for companies that sponsor them….the pitch is surrounded by million-dollar valued advertisements….the TV stations who transmit the games are paid to advertise during commercial breaks….

    But a player cannot remove his jersey, or have a message to a loved one on his shirt or state his religious beliefs.

    FIFA thinks their such a universally legalistic institution, but they fail to realize that their “regulation” goes against something that is above them, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which all FIFA associated countries are signataries:

    Article 18: Freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

    Hippocricy at its finest.

    FIFA seems so intent on regulating how players celebrate their goals and victories…might as well restrict them all to sitting in a circle and singing Kumbaya….oh wait…that’s religious too…

    Please…enough with the overkill….who gets offended by a player having “I belong to Jesus” on his T-Shirt? He can wear that on the street but can’t wear it when HIS TEAM wins fairly in the spirit of competition…

    It’s not like players had “Kill Jews” or “Maim Islam” on their gear…

  8. Caleb says:

    Players like Kaka, Lucio, Pienear and lots more are my football Romodels, they teach me to know that Jesus is everywhere with meeven when i play football. (this is why were are Jesus,s followers)

    Thank u God.

  9. jamie says:

    Our secular culture raises celebrities to the level of gods to be raised up, worshiped, glorified, and then finally discarded. How ironic that this culture cannot cope when the celebrity personalities point that worship to One who is actually worthy of it.

    If you don’t agree, ignore it. Why are you so offended? Smacks of insecurity in your position to me!

  10. [...] of faith, or T-shirts or otherwise, during the 2010 World Cup. FIFA’s implication is that faith should be a private thing. As Christians, we know that our faith impacts every aspect of who we are so that it can never be [...]