The English Football Association (FA) congratulated itself this month for finally accepting that its rule on Religious Observance in amateur leagues should be extended to religions other than Christianity.
For the first time, the FA acknowledged that just as amateur Christian players are not obliged to play on Good Friday or Christmas day, their Muslim counterparts should be afforded the same rights without fear of reprimand. The success was effectively due to The Muslim News campaign to correct this blatant discrepancy.
Embarrassingly, it took the case of Abram Moss Warriors and the highlighting of the rationale by The Muslim News for the FA to concede that its diversity policy was alarmingly outdated, having failed to take into account England’s growing Muslim population.
In 2003, the Manchester-based team, made up of mostly 12-year-old Muslims, were penalised with a £250 fine and excluded from their local cup for merely requesting the rescheduling of the kick-off time for a game during Ramadan that year. The Warriors’ appeal to Lancashire FA was rejected and met with patronising advice on the appropriate age for fasting.