Skip to main content

Papiss Cisse sits out Newcastle trip over religious beliefs, says agent

July 19, 2013 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Papiss Cisse is refusing to wear Newcastle's shirt after the sponsor changed from Virgin Money to Wonga.
Papiss Cisse is refusing to wear Newcastle's shirt after the sponsor changed from Virgin Money to Wonga.
  • Muslim striker Papiss Cisse refuses to wear Newcastle's club shirt on religious grounds
  • The shirt sponsor, Wonga, lends money at an annual interest rate of 5,800 percent
  • Under Sharia law, making money from interest charges isn't allowed
  • Cisse wore Newcastle's jersey last season when it was sponsored by Virgin Money

(CNN) -- English Premier League club Newcastle United and striker Papiss Cisse are at odds over the club's sponsorship deal with a finance company, according to the player's agent.

Cisse, who terrorized opposition defenses when he moved to soccer's Premier League last year, hasn't been included in Newcastle's squad for a pre-season tour of Portugal, the team from Northeast England revealed on its website

A Muslim, Cisse doesn't want to don Newcastle's jersey -- according to his agent -- because the sponsor is Wonga, which, as stated on its website, lends money with an annual interest rate of more than 5,800 percent.

"He feels that it is immoral....," the Senegal international's agent Madou Diene told CNN, outlining his interpretation of the striker's position.

Diene declined CNN's request to interview Cisse.

Carlos Tevez: Man City pressure too much
Balotelli: Racism makes me feel alone
Balotelli: I'm glad I left England
Balotelli: I've had enough of racist abuse

Read: Shirt details reach new heights

Earlier this month UK consumer watchdog Which? revealed a million families a month needed short-term high interest loans to get by.

Of those, 400,000 used the cash to pay for essentials such as food and fuel, while a further 240,000 needed money to pay off existing debts.

Newcastle, which did not return calls from CNN seeking comment, has yet to explain why Cisse did not travel with the squad to Portugal.

Under Sharia law, making money from interest, for example, isn't allowed.

But the BBC reported that two of Cisse's Muslim teammates, midfielders Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko, told the club they had no issue with wearing the shirt and both of them were included in the squad for the trip to Portugal as the club prepare for the new English Premier League season which starts on August 17.

The partnership between the club and Wonga is said to be worth $38m over four years.

Wonga, which declined comment on the Cisse case, launched its first website in 2007 and according to its website, "rapidly became one of the world's most innovative credit providers."

For first-time users, loans of up to about $600 can be requested and Wonga usually provides an answer, it says, in seconds.

However, the interest such companies charge consumers has raised concerns among a number of British politicians.

"Urgent action is needed to grip the regulation of the payday loan industry, as the number of cases of misery and hardship are growing rapidly because of pressures on living standards and personal finance," Chris Leslie MP, Labour's Shadow Treasury Minister, told the British opposition party's website in June.

Cisse wore Newcastle's jersey last season when it was sponsored by another finance company -- lender Virgin Money.

"I guess it might be a question of people's views changing over time," Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general with the Muslim Council of Britain, told CNN.

"Maybe they've not had a chance to think things through beforehand. Maybe now they realize," added Mogra in response to the question as to why Cisse wore a Virgin jersey but not the Wonga one.

Read: Newcastle United's French connection

Cisse wouldn't be the first Muslim player to refuse to wear a jersey on religious grounds.

Striker Frederic Kanoute took a stand at Spain's Sevilla in 2006 when he opted against wearing a shirt sponsored by gambling firm

Thiago Silva targets PSG dominance
Exclusive: What makes Ibrahimovic tick?
PSG: One year on

Eventually, Kanoute did wear the shirt but was excluded from taking part in any promotional activities linked to the sponsorship.

"I think every player will have their own (stance) on this," said Mogra. "There will be players who will not be prepared to do something they believe is against their religious teaching and there might be some who might not be so concerned.

"It's very difficult to say how everyone is going to react."

The Council hasn't been approached by the club or Cisse, Mogra added.

"If they were to make a request or approach, we would either signpost them or be able to give them advice," he said.

The chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor -- who is seeking a resolution to the dispute -- did not respond to CNN's request for an interview.

Read: The curious case of Claudio Yacob

When asked if other clubs had expressed an interest in Cisse, Diene couldn't "answer that question."

Earlier he insisted that Cisse "loves the fans, the club and the city."

Cisse played a significant role in helping Newcastle to overachieve and finish fifth in the Premier League in 2011/2012, scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances after joining from Freiburg for $13.7 million during the January transfer window.

But he cooled last term, netting eight league goals as he played second fiddle to Demba Ba. Ba was then sold to Chelsea and Newcastle barely avoided relegation.

The Cisse saga has added to an already lively off-season at Newcastle, one of England's best supported clubs with an average league attendance last season of more than 50,000.

In June, the Magpies rehired the outspoken Joe Kinnear, which did not go down well with the club's fans. Formerly a manager, he was brought back as director of soccer.

Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.