Should Footballers Be Allowed to Celebrate With Religion?
There was a familiar site on display after Sunday’s Confederation Cup Final (above). Not just Brazil lifting another trophy, but Kaka’s famous “I Belong to Jesus” t-shirt, which he apparently got back from the dry cleaners just in time to wear for the final. Several of Kaka’s teammates also wore Jesus themed t-shirts, and the team got down on its knees to celebrate together in prayer, which you can see at the end of the video above.
No harm in that, right? Well, depends who you ask…
I’m sure most people, like me, thought nothing of it. If Brazilian players want to wear t-shirts about Jesus and all kneel down together, then it’s none of my business.
But Denmark Football Federation Secretary-General Jim Stjerne Hansen has pointed out that religious displays contravene one of FIFA’s laws.
Here’s FIFA Law 4, Decision 1:
Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising. The
basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal
A player removing his jersey or shirt to reveal slogans or advertising will be
sanctioned by the competition organiser. The team of a player whose basic
compulsory equipment has political, religious or personal slogans or statements
will be sanctioned by the competition organiser or by FIFA.
[from page 20 of the 2009/10 FIFA Laws of the Game (released today!)]
And here’s what Jim Stjerne Hansen had to say yesterday:
“Personally I do not think that sport and religion should be mixed to such a degree that we more or less see a manifestation of a religious stance,” says Hansen.
“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,” he says.
Obviously FIFA hasn’t cracked down on the Brazil team, because that definitely would have made the newspapers. In some ways this is tricky stuff, and so FIFA appears to be tuning a blind eye.
But mostly it’s just common sense. If a team wins a trophy, and wants to celebrate by holding hands and kneeling in a circle, then that’s up to them. They’re not mocking any other religion or pushing their beliefs on anyone else. And if Brazilian players want to wear t-shirts saying “I Belong to Jesus” and “I Love Jesus” then that’s up to them too. It’s a personal message. If the message was “You Belong to Jesus” or “You Should Belong to Jesus”, then we’d have a problem. But it’s not, so we don’t.