Muslim striker objects on religious and ethical grounds to Toon’s controversial new sponsors’ sky-high interest rates
Papiss Cisse is set to refuse to wear a Newcastle shirt carrying the name of controversial new sponsors Wonga.
The Senegal star has informed the Magpies of his objections, on religious and ethical grounds, to advertising the pay-day loan company while playing for them.
Star striker Cisse, a practicing Muslim, is against helping promote Wonga, who have attracted criticism for charging sky-high interest rates that allegedly target the poor.
Cisse’s Toon team-mates Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa are also practicing Muslims.
No solution has been found yet, but there is a precedent.
Former Spurs striker Freddie 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 signed for Spanish side Sevilla.
Key to Newcastle’s talks with Cisse will be the wording of the player’s contract regarding what discretion the club has to make players sport sponsors’ logos.
Cisse, the club’s joint-top scorer last season, is said to be very proud to wear Newcastle’s famous No 9 shirt, but unhappy with the multi-million Wonga deal, which replaces Virgin Money’s sponsorship for next season.
Newcastle have been respectful of their player’s religious needs in recent years, even installing a prayer room.
Sharia law states that Muslims must not benefit from either lending money or receiving money from another person.
Interest is not paid on Islamic bank accounts or added to mortgages.
On Friday, Wonga’s website was promoting loans with an APR of 4,214 per cent.
Earlier this week, Championship side Bolton dropped plans to be sponsored by another pay-day loan company, QuickQuid, after fan protests.
The club said it had taken the decision after “feedback” from fans and politicians.
Almost 4,500 people signed a petition against the deal and Bolton are now sponsored by FibrLec, a sustainable-energy company.
Cisse, who is due to play for Senegal in two World Cup qualifiers in the next week, has been linked with Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala and Borussia Dortmund of Germany this summer, although Newcastle do not want to sell.
The club have launched their Wonga-branded new away kit, but not the version they’ll wear in home matches.
Only Steven Taylor and Rob Elliot have so far been pictured with the new logo on a shirt.
They are also investing in the development of young players and want to help the club’s Foundation as it tries to get school leavers into work.
Wonga claim to have a 90 per cent satisfaction level among their customers and state they are up front about interest rates charged.