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Papiss Cisse racially abused on Facebook over refusal to wear Newcastle kit

Jun 14, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

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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.

  1. reasonableperson1 - Jun 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    No one should ever be racially abused, but in today’s social media world it unfortunately happens. The internet gives everyone a voice, including a few idiots in the minority.

    That being said, Cisse should wear the shirt or go play for another club. A professional athlete has to realize they are beneficiaries of money from club sponsorships. Lending money for interest is legal in the UK, thus Cisse has zero standing. Why should he get to dictate what he will and won’t do, once he signs a contract he should comply with the requests as long as they are reasonable. Either play in a league that strictly conforms to your beliefs or keep quiet.

  2. charliej11 - Jun 14, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Good for him for sticking to his beliefs. So many would justify playing to themselves somehow. I hope it works out for him.

  3. mvktr2 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:51 PM

    Worst part is the reality of 1984-style thought police whom arrest people for speech are now involved. If Cisse has been harmed he can sue them and recoup loses. It’d be a much better solution than what is essentially the same thing as when kings caged those whom would speak against them. Caging or even fining people for speech no matter how atrocious is a moral wrong which eclipses the moral wrong being punished. To put it another way I’m very glad the westboro baptist church loons can say whatever they like, equally glad that more reasonable people and jokesters alike can point out how ignorant and wrong they are.

    • mdac1012 - Jun 14, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      So you believe in an complete, without limitation freedom of speech? Yelling fire in a crowded movie theater? It’s ok to stand up in a PTA meeting and accuse you of being a child molester and a rapist, just because I feel like it? After all, it’s my right, I have freedom of speech, right?

      I can open up a website, post pictures of you and make all kinds of accusations and threats toward you and your family? As long as I don’t act on it, it’s just words, right? What damage could it do?

      If you find that acceptable, then I applaud you with being consistent in your belief of absolute freedom of speech! If you don’t, then you accept that there is a need for some limitations of what people can and can’t say to others. The argument then becomes, how far do the limitations go?

      Sticks and stones……you know the rest.

      • mvktr2 - Jun 15, 2013 at 12:45 AM

        Yes I believe in freedom. I believe my response clearly spelled out that if Cisse is injured it is up to him to seek justice/being made whole. Not sure what else needs to be explained.

        I roundly reject violence and the threat there of, yes I’m very consistent on the matter. If people threatened injury then it’s a case for legitimate authorities. However if someone called him a child molester or used racial slurs or religious slurs in a grown up world there is no valid threat and it’s a private court matter between individual parties absent any state involvement whereby Cisse will seek restitution for damages.

        In all of life I’m a voluntarist rejecting force in all it’s forms except as a matter of self-defense, believing that all rights are individual, all people are free, all rights extend from property rights and that the human body is the most important property any of us own. It is ours to do with as we wish and we are to be grownups and live with the consequences. Proposed reading: Bastiat’s ‘The Law’ and Rothbard’s ‘Anatomy of the State’.

        Do you not get the parallel between voice police and the king’s sheriff? Do you not support the rights of people to speak unpopular things; ie westboro baptist church? Do you not believe in individual liberty? As Harriet Tubman said, ‘I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if I could have convinced them they were slaves.’

  4. mvktr2 - Jun 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    I applaud anyone whom is willing to live their faith as if it matters rather than simply casting it aside when convenient or when it’ll cost them money and the like. I hope they allow him to play without that sponsorship. I’d hope the people at Wonga will ‘write in a pass’ for Cisse and I’d hope the club is willing to take a small reduction in payment in return for which maybe they could sell a single shirt sponsor for Cisse … that’s be unique!

    • mdac1012 - Jun 15, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      I was simply posting a question, it in no way reflects any position I may or may not have of the subject. After reading your reply, I think my views on the issue are very much in line with yours. I believe there should be limited restrictions on freedom of speech and I personally think they take the limits too far in the U.K. If you accept that certain threats are a matter for the authorities, then that is a restriction on freedom of speech. But that goes to the second part of my original post. What is an acceptable restriction and what is not?

  5. dws110 - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    What’s the difference between Wonga and Virgin Money/Northern Rock, other than degree? I don’t understand his objection.

  6. bellerophon30 - Jun 14, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    So Cisse wants more money, but doesn’t want the team be allowed to earn the money to pay him? I hope Newcastle holds the line on this.

    But that’s all I feel for Cisse, a mild disagreement. The ones throwing out the racial comments are pathetic losers.

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