Saturday, July 18, 2009
Soccer group tells Brazil’s superstars ’Keep God out of football’
By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
UNITED KINGDOM (ANS) -- The soccer world's governing body -- FIFA (The Fédération Internationale de Football Association) -- has sparked controversy after disciplining the Brazilian team for overt displays of Christianity during a match.
According to Daniel King, writing for Britain's 'Daily Mail' newspaper (www.dailymail.co.uk ), FIFA has now risked accusations of being 'anti-religious' by reminding Brazil of its guidelines banning players from making displays of a personal, religious or political nature on the football pitch.
King reports that a warning letter was sent to the Brazilian football federation 'to remind them of the relevant regulations, so that such incidents do not recur in the future.'
The newspaper reports that Brazilian players, and Kaka in particular, are well-known for their strong religious beliefs and the squad and backroom staff formed a large circle and sank to their knees in prayer after the victory over the US at the end of last month.
In the subsequent team photographs, many players were wearing the Christian T-shirts, with captain Lucio prominent as he lifted the trophy, the newspaper said.
In his article, King says: "But Brazil's display of faith had an extra element of controversy because most of the players are Pentecostalists, whose leaders have been accused of violating religious freedom by attacking those of other faiths.
Jim Stjerne Hansen, secretary general of the Danish football association, said: "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."
King explains that FIFA rules specifically ban the use of T-shirts or other undergarments, but there is nothing that outlaws prayer or other displays of religious belief. Law 4, which deals with players' equipment, reads: "Players must not reveal undergarments showing slogans or advertising. The basic compulsory equipment must not have any political, religious or personal statements."
Brazil has escaped sanction, just as they did following a similar display of T-shirts after their 2005 Confederations Cup win, but football has made its intention clear to keep religion, as well as politics, out of sport, King reported.
According to its website, FIFA is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based in Zurich. It has 208 member associations and its goal, enshrined in its Statutes, is the constant improvement of football.
FIFA employs some 310 people from over 35 nations and is composed of a Congress (legislative body), Executive Committee (executive body), General Secretariat (administrative body) and committees (assisting the Executive Committee).
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