Religion has no place on the football pitch, according to Danish football association DBU, which criticised Brazil’s players for holding an on-field team prayer after their Confederations Cup win in South Africa on Sunday.
Jim Stjerne Hansen, DBU’s managing director, said it was the length of the celebration that went over the line.
‘To mix religion and sport to such a degree was almost like creating a manifestation of a religious standpoint,’ he told Politiken newspaper. ‘And just as we don’t allow politics to be a part of the sport, we should also say no to religion.’
After Sunday’s match, most of the Brazilian team gathered in a circle on the pitch, where they thanked God and Jesus for the victory, with some players wearing T-shirts with Christian messages printed on them.
International football authority FIFA would not comment specifically on Sunday’s demonstration, but its rules strictly forbid any advertisement of political or religious beliefs.
‘Players may not reveal clothing that shows slogans or adverts,’ it states in FIFA’s rulebook. ‘If a player removes his jersey and reveals a political, religious or personal statement, he will be punished by the organisers of the respective tournament or by FIFA.’
Yet FIFA indicated to The Copenhagen Post on Tuesday that it had not yet made a decision on whether the Brazilian team or individual players would be disciplined.
‘FIFA is carefully monitoring all situations related to this topic,’ said an organisation representative.
'In the case mentioned, the situation occurred after the conclusion of the match, whereas Law 4 of the Laws of the Game refers to conduct and players' equipment during the match. However, FIFA has reminded the Brazilian football association of the relevant procedures on this matter.’
Ironically, European football federation UEFA indicated on Wednesday that religious demonstrations were okay with their organisation.
‘It’s a matter of rule interpretation,’ a UEFA spokesperson told Politiken. ‘We tolerate it as long as it doesn’t harm or offend any group, person or society.’