Neymar, Olivier Giroud and Toulouse player Zakaria Aboukhlal, these footballers who do not hide their beliefs

TFC player Zakaria Abukhlali apologized to the player after retracting the article by Arabic-language Achkayen media accusing him of promoting Salafism. The Moroccan national from Toulouse is a fervent believer. And this is not the only case in football. Many players do not hide their religious beliefs.

On December 23, the Moroccan “Achkayen” website published an article with the title “Abukhlal, his predecessor in the national team”. The media blamed the Moroccan TFC international player “Salafi’s apology in the Moroccan election and the attempt to attract players to its cause” During the World Cup that just ended in Qatar.

This article set the internet ablaze. The Moroccan Football Federation and his club in Toulouse, while supporting the player, condemned the accusations of Achkayen media.

Since then, the article in question has not been published, and the site, which was the source of this false information, apologized to Zakaria Abukhlal.For the moral damage caused due to deliberate or distorted statements about the content and goals of some of them in the article.

Awakening Salafism like Achkaya’s media is, above all, indoctrinating radical Islam. And there is nothing to confirm that Zakaria Abukhlal is affiliated with Salafism. This baseless rumor can only harm the football player and those around him.

Like many professional footballers, Zakaria Abukhlal never hid his religious beliefs. Both on the field and on social networks. During the World Cup in Qatar, Abukhlal and some Moroccan players put their knees and hands on the ground. The sign of prostration can be interpreted as a religious sign called Sujud.

Zakaria Abukhlal is very comfortable with his religious beliefs.

He does not hesitate to mention his love for Islam on social networks. Many publications Remember him as in this Instagram post where we see him with the imam during Ramadan:

The parallel between professed faith and religious proselytism is dangerous. Zakaria Abukhlal lives his faith intensely. During this FIFA World Cup, the newfound fame of the player and the Atlas Lions has given way to rumors and sad deeds.

Before the World Cup in Qatar, the TFC player had “barely” 670,000 followers on his Instagram account. At the end of December 2022, it was about 3 million.

In 2014, journalist Nikolas Vilas, the author of “God’s Football Club”, awakened a certain form of proselytism of football players in social networks.

We cannot generalize, but some religious movements, for example, evangelicals, consider proselytizing as a mission. It is also assumed in some Muslim sects, but not in all. There are players who will talk about their faith with teammates or other people, but these are not necessarily acts of proselytizing. Most of the time, it’s just an exchange. The player is accepted by his faith and has a more or less conscious need to want to share with the people around him“he explains during his interview with Europe 1

On Earth, the story is quite different. The national and international regulations of professional football are very clear. It is prohibited “Wearing any sign or clothing that outwardly indicates political, philosophical, religious or trade union affiliation“Still, some players aren’t hiding anymore.

Neymar wore a headband during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.100% Jesus“in the beginning.

PSG player He is a follower of the San Vincente Pentecostal Church in Brazil. He wore this headband many times on the field.

More subdued, Olivier Giroud’s tattoo. The French football player of “Milan” tattooed the Bible verse in Latin. Eternal is my shepherd, I have nothing (Psalm 23) above the arm.

Olivier Giroud said in an interview with GQ magazine last August: “Knowing the life of Jesus helps me a lot, because I realized that it gives me deep humility. It helps me a lot on a daily basis, and I try to do the same for my family, my children.”

So could this be a drift among religious players? Cases of radicalization in professional football are extremely rare.

In 2017, Tunisian Anis Ben-Hatira, a midfielder from Darmstadt (Germany), was expelled from the club because he was close to a humanitarian organization and the Salafi movement.

THERE ISnis Ben-Hatira supported the charity organization Ansaar International. According to German intelligence, it is a very close union “in the German Salafi environment”.

Another incident is about Hatem Trabelsi. The former football player of Amsterdam “Ajax” club has confirmed that he is a member of Salafism. The former Tunisian international now advocates strict Islam.

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