London: A fresh controversy has hit Premier League club Newcastle United over its 24 million pound shirt sponsorship deal with Wonga, as Muslim players in the club have been advised not wear the new shirts since it would be a breach of Sharia Laws.
The intervention from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) will stack further pressure on the club as it seeks to deflect widespread criticism after unveiling a four-year deal with the short-term loan company.
Of the Newcastle team Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa are practicing Islam.
Wonga, whose deal to succeed Virgin Money will begin next season, has attracted widespread criticism for the level of interest charged on its 30-day loans.
It means that if a Newcastle supporter took a loan to buy a 49.99 pounds club shirt, he would have to repay 71.92 pounds after one month, which is a rate that would be equivalent to 4,212 per cent over a year.
Under Sharia law, a Muslim is not allowed to benefit from lending money or receiving money from someone, which means that earning interest is not allowed.
To comply, interest is not paid on Islamic savings or current accounts or applied to Islamic mortgages.
“There are two aspects to this. We have the rulings of the religious law and we have the individual``s choice and decision on how they want to follow or not follow that rule,” the Independent quoted Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the MCB, as saying.
“The idea is to protect the vulnerable and the needy from exploitation by the rich and powerful. When they are lending and are charging large amounts of interest, it means the poor will have short-term benefit from the loan but long-term difficulty in paying it back because the rate of interest is not something they can keep up with. The Islamic system is based on a non-interest-based system of transaction,” he added.
First Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 13:26