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Jul 17 / Jamie Hardesty

On Papiss’ Predicament: Is Cisse in the Right or in the Wronga?

One story circulating in the press at present is the situation existing between our number 9, Papiss Cisse, and his apparent refusal to wear the Newcastle United shirt, branded by pay day loan lenders Wonga.

Could this be the last Newcastle shirt Cisse wears?

BBC Football have today given more substance to the speculation surrounding Cisse, by revealing that the Senegalese forward has in fact now pulled out of the club’s pre-season tour of Portugal, following a failure between the player and the club to reach a compromise.

Personally I find this to be another bit of negativity the club desperately doesn’t need but we have to appreciate that this is a delicate issue and we, the fans, would be wise to take as much as an understanding stance as we can throughout what is a confusing and worrying issue.

Why won’t Cisse simply wear the shirt?

The reason Cisse has chosen not to wear the Wonga branded shirt is because he objects, on ‘religious grounds’, to promoting a pay day lender. He is said to be protesting in relation to the ethics, or lack of, of the company. Many Muslims adhere to Sharia Law in their faith, with part of the belief asserting that a Muslim is not to benefit from receiving or lending money from another. So to put it in to perspective, for those who are unaware, Wonga make their money by lending money to individuals only to receive payment plus interest. Therefore we can understand Cisse’s qualms with the company as Wonga operate by benefiting astronomically from loaning out money.  In comparison to Virgin or Northern Rock for example, Wonga are far more damaging in the short term due to their uncompromising nature and have had a lot more negative publicity nationally than accredited banks.

But…but… aren’t the likes of Sissoko, Tiote and Ben Arfa Muslim?

It’s true that Cisse’s Newcastle team mates, and recognised first team stars, are also practising Muslims however it would be a very sweeping and generalised statement to group all Muslims as holding the same exact and identical beliefs. For example, Christianity is a religion however it would be wrong to assert that every Christian within the faith share the exact same attitudes and values. Cisse is an individual in his own right and whether we are talking about football or not, the fact remains is that he has his own personal beliefs irrelevant of his peers.

So, what next? Can a compromise be reached?

From what the media are telling us, it seems that Cisse is eager to reach a compromise and bring about a return to normalcy. It’s been suggested that Cisse would be open to the idea of wearing an unbranded shirt or a shirt that promotes a more ethically acceptable logo, such as a charity.

Famously, Freddie Kanoute refused to wear a shirt that advertised the gambling site 888.com a few years ago during his Sevilla days, resulting in him wearing an unbranded shirt for some time. He did eventually wear a shirt with the logo on, however an agreement was reached whereby he was exempt from promoting the gambling company during events off field.

Could Cisse follow Kanoute’s example?

Are Wonga really worth protesting?

In short – yes.

I’ve written many an article and argued in many blogs that I find it appalling Newcastle United are representatives of Wonga. Wonga are a pay day loan lending company and in theory, their business model makes sense; you lend some money when you need it and then when you pay back the fee, you also pay for the service they provide by paying back interest on top of what you’ve owed. However the practicalities can be horrifying and people must be made aware of this.

A lot of people who choose to lend from the likes of Wonga do so out of necessity. Therefore when they need to pay the money back they owe, they then get in debt again because the interest is too high. It can be crippling in fact and there is a prevalent argument that these sort of lenders should be watchdogged by the government or some sort of regulatory body. Pay day lenders can prey on the needy and the naïve, as many people genuinely don’t know what they are getting themselves in for, having been enticed by what appears to be an open and friendly marketing campaign.

To summarise, once people get involved with these companies they can become engulfed in a never ending spiral of debt. It’s no coincidence that during economic recession the industries that experience a boom are pay day lenders and gambling establishments. People are forced in to looking for quick fixes and the reality is, these services are more trouble than they are worth.

Therefore for a club like Newcastle United, a club which for most is the heart and life beat of a predominantly working class city, promotes something as potentially damaging to people’s lives as Wonga, then I think morality and ethics inevitably comes in to the question. For many this is a massive stain on the image of not only the club, but on the city and the fan base.

Opinion: Is Cisse in the right or is he in the wrong?

I could spend all day writing about the ins and outs of Wonga and so on but I’m digressing, where does Cisse fit in to all of this?

Perhaps you could say that I’m biased because I already have a negative pre-conceived view of Wonga however I do think we should show some compassion for Cisse’s situation, especially at a time when Muslims in general are blindly and wrongly receiving a lot of bad publicity in this country following what happened in Woolwich last month.

I’d argue that the issue is very complex and must be handled delicately, Cisse’s views as an individual must be respected, though he has an obligation as an employee of the club to perform in the role of which he is being paid for.

What I don’t think is right is for people to generally say, ‘we’re paying him, he should wear the shirt whatever it has on it’. Rather the issue needs to be handled well without any party taking things to extremes.

Cisse’s Future?

Cisse must now continue to liaise with the club and an agreement must be reached about how to move forward together. Let’s not forget, despite the man setting a record for being guilty of 10, 000 offsides last season, he is our number 9 and a big terrace favourite as well as being a genuinely good personality within the group.

I for one hope that some sort of compromise can be reached but in the mean time I can only hope that people will respect Papiss and show some support during what is yet another uncomfortable and tumultuous time at our beloved club.

Support Papiss. Support NUFC.

Comments are encouraged…

One Comment

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  1. Andy / Jul 17 2013

    How come he wore the Virgin Money shirt if it is religious belief that stops him wearing the Wonga one. They both charge interest which is against Islamic Law, not the level .
    Also he plays in competitions sponsored by Barclays, Bud and Capital One all against Islamic Law. Then the sponsors of the European Cups.
    Plus Sky pay a lot for the TV coverage some of which comes from Sky Bet.

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