TEL AVIV – Muhammad Alarefe, a prominent Saudi religious leader, has demanded that FIFA, the international soccer governing body, instruct players to stop making the Christian sign of the cross.
Alarefe wrote on his Twitter account, “I’ve seen video clips of athletes, soccer players running, shooting and when they win they make the symbol of the cross on their chests and my question is if FIFA’s rules forbid this.”
رأيت مقاطع لرياضيين " كرة قدم، سباق جري، رمي سهام، .. "
إذا فاز أحدهم أشار لصدره إشارة الصليب!
أليس نظام فيفا يمنع الإشارات الدينية؟
— د. محمد #العريفي (@MohamadAlarefe) May 5, 2017
Social media users were divided on the question, with some supporting Alarefe’s comment and others laughing and saying they wondered why he has taken no stance against Muslim soccer players who kneel to pray when they win or score a goal.
Sultan Alhusni wrote, “I can’t lie. Mohamed Salah (an Egyptian soccer player who plays in Europe) and others kneel to pray when they score a goal and no one punishes them. Leave the sport to those who deal with it.”
— سلطان الحسني (@dremer_88) May 5, 2017
Sam, another social media user, wrote, “The cross is one of the symbols of the vehicles we travel in, so what’s the problem if it appears on the pitch, or is what’s allowed in one place forbidden in another? Weird.”
@twasulnews الصليب موجود بسيارات الي نركبها وش مشكله الملاعب ولا حلل وحرم بمكان ومكان لا عجيب
— ɑ̷̜Lм̷̤̜̈ Al (@sam147147) May 6, 2017
Fahd Alarawi wrote, “Great, Alarefe has become a sports commentator. When there’s free time, we get involved in things we don’t understand.”
— فهد العروي (@tvip_f) May 6, 2017
Another social media user wrote, “Respected Sheikh, unfortunately their rules are only applied to Muslims and unfortunately no one protests that – on the contrary, the go quieter than the grave.”
@MohamadAlarefeنعم شيخنا الجليل لكن انظمتهم لا تطبق الا على المسلمين فقط وللاسف لم نجد من يحتج على هذا التمييز والكل صامت صمت القبور
— حصه العون بنت الوطن (@hesshalown) May 5, 2017
Win Al Fahad wrote the sheikh that, “It’s like you’re now calling on FIFA to forbid Muslim players from bowing to Allah and raising their hands in prayer to the sky. FIFA prohibits the use of religion, politics and racism in sports.”
— فهد محمد العوين (@alowinfahad) May 5, 2017
Ibrahim Alatwi responded to Al Fahad, saying, “And no one says a thing (to Muslim players who pray) so the Christians are allowed to mark the cross on their chests. FIFA doesn’t distinguish between one player and another.”
— ابراهيم العطوي (@ibraheam202) May 6, 2017
Abu Lil scolded the religious scholar, writing, “Get out of our sport that unites Christians, Sunni and Shia on one team with their hearts one on the other. Everyone should deal with his religion and let us be. May FIFA be blessed.”
— ✍اٍّبّْوّ لَّيٌّلَّ☞ (@M0503996767) May 5, 2017
Another social media user, Capitano, responded to the sheikh with sarcasm, saying, “The ISIS regime forbids crossing oneself; when al-Baghdadi is elected president of FIFA, we’ll discuss the respected sheikh’s request.”
@MohamadAlarefe نظام داعش يمنع إشارة الصليب
اذا أصبح البغدادي رئيس للفيفا سينظر في طلب سماحتكم
— ↪CAPITANO↩️ (@aboatsk) May 5, 2017