Newcastle's Cissé Pulls Out Of Pre-Season Tour Due To Wonga Sponsorship Dispute
EPL Newcastle player Papiss Demba Cissé's position with the club "is becoming increasingly untenable" after he "failed to travel with his team-mates to their training camp in Portugal because of his reluctance to wear Wonga-branded playing kit," according to George Caulkin of the LONDON TIMES. Newcastle has given Cissé "permission to train alone on Tyneside, but are no closer to resolving their dispute with the striker, who is refusing on religious and ethical grounds to be associated with the club’s new kit sponsor." Cissé, a practicing Muslim, "has objections to promoting Wonga, the controversial payday lender" (LONDON TIMES, 7/18). The BBC's Ben Smith reported Cissé and his representatives "have been in talks" with club officials and the Professional Footballers' Association in recent days, but "neither the club nor their shirt sponsor have been able to find a solution." Cisse's Newcastle teammates Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko are also Muslim, but "have told the club they have no issue with wearing the sponsor's logo" (BBC, 7/17).
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: In London, Martin Hardy reported the compromise so far has been to officially let Cissé "remain in the North-east for the following week and train on his own." However, that "uneasy truce will be cast into further doubt when Newcastle return from their base in Portugal next Wednesday." At that point, Newcastle seems "certain to look for ways to offload the forward, or risk a potentially damaging row with the PFA and the individual rights of one of their players" (INDEPENDENT, 7/18). The AFP reported other sports teams "have made concessions to the faith of their Muslim players." South Africa cricketer Hashim Amla is "allowed to wear shirts without the logo of team sponsor Castle Lager because of the Islamic prohibition on drinking alcohol." The BBC quoted sources saying Cissé's refusal to wear the sponsored shirt had left him in a "strained" relationship with the Premier League side (AFP, 7/18). MARKETING MAGAZINE's Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith reported Cissé "offered to wear a non-branded Newcastle shirt or a charity branded shirt in order to play" (MARKETING MAGAZINE, 7/17).