Liverpool Football Club is to ‘take action’ against a fan who tweeted a picture of two Muslim men praying at a Premier League stadium with the hashtag ‘#disgrace’.
Stephen Dodd tweeted the image with the caption: “Muslims praying at half-time at the match yesterday #DISGRACE”.
He was reported to police, who investigated but decided no criminal offence had taken place. However, Liverpool FC has now promised to take “appropriate action” against him. Punishments could involve revoking his season ticket, if he has one, or completely banning him from future matches.
Mr Dodd’s tweet caused a storm on Twitter, with many users calling him a “bigot” and “disgrace to humanity”.
However, speaking to the Daily Mail, one of the Muslims in the picture, Asif Bodi, said that banning Mr Dodd from future matches would be a step too far:
“My little boy said at the time ‘someone is taking a picture of us’ and I thought maybe it was someone who hadn’t seen prayers before.
“I certainly didn’t expect to be called a disgrace for doing it, but this guy wasn’t abusive to us and the support since has been very nice, I’m thankful.
“I’ve supported Liverpool for 40 years and I used to be a season ticket holder. From what I understand this guy doesn’t live too far from the ground and is probably a boyhood fan, so I wouldn’t want him excluded from the ground or anything.”
Mr Bodi instead called for Dodd to “be given a talking to and made to go on an awareness course or educating.”
The other man in the photo, Abubakar Bhula, said he would like to meet Mr Dodd to explain the importance of prayers in Islam:
“Education is key to stopping things like this from happening. Maybe the man who took the photo has not come across Muslims before who have explained the significance of prayer. I would be quite happy to meet with him to explain why we pray and when it needs to be done.”
Despite these declarations, Liverpool FC said in a statement that it would not tolerate discrimination at the club and that it would “take appropriate action against the individual involved”.
One Muslim group has called for football clubs to install special prayer areas so that Muslim fans can pray in a safe space away from possible anti-Islamic abuse. Fiyaz Mughal of Tell MAMA told MailOnline: “We are aware of incidents where practising Muslims have been abused since they have decided to quietly pray in public areas during half-time breaks.
“Given that people want to peacefully pray, we would suggest that clubs consider making a prayer room available for those fans who want to do so.”