A Muslim Cleric from Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Alarefe has called on the Federation of International Football Association to ban Christian players from making the sign of the cross after scoring a goal.
He urged the World’s governing body to write it into the game’s laws that players be prohibited from tapping their stomach, chest, left shoulder then right shoulder to make a cross.
Daily Mail reports that Alarefe, who is professor of religion at King Saud University in Riyadh, posted the controversial call on Twitter to his 17.4million followers, but he was quickly flooded with messages disagreeing with him.
A number of people pointed out to the Muslim scholar that a huge amount of players kneel on the ground and kiss the floor in celebration of a goal, mimicking the Islamic prayer.
Alarefe wrote: ‘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.’
While people form all religious backgrounds, including Christianity and Islam responded to his views, many condemned the cleric, saying it incited division.
Sultan Alhusni replied mentioning an Egyptian footballer currently playing for Italian club Roma, and said: ‘I can’t lie. Mohamed Salah and others kneel to pray when they score a goal and no one punishes them. Leave the sport to those who deal with it.’