Muslim players celebrating by kneeling down in a prayer position is nothing new. Newcastle United’s Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse do it regularly in the English Premier League and so do a lot of players around the continent.
But when Gary Lineker saw a goal by French champions Montpellier’s Karim Ait-Fana against Schalke in midweek, he described the celebration as “eating grass”.
A Goal.com report said that Lineker, who is BBC Match of the Day presenter, was covering the Champions League match for Al Jazeera and described the goal by saying: “A terrific effort from Karim Ait-Fana, who scored from just outside the area and then ate grass…as you do.”
Both Ait-Fana and teammate Younes Belhanda celebrated in a similar fashion.
He has apologised for his comments after receiving complains on his Twitter feed. He wrote to his 1.1 million followers: “I’m sorry but I’m not aware of every player’s religion.”
The BBC have said that the comment from Lineker was Al Jazeera’s matter.
Ajmal Masroor, a London based imam was quoted in the report as saying, “It’s a stupid remark and sheer ignorance. This is very unprofessional from a football legend who is supposed to be a role model. The fact it was on Al Jazeera makes it even more unacceptable. I am stunned – seeing this makes me sick. He should apologise or be sacked by Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera were unavailable for comment.
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