A series of TV shows airing on Egypt-based religious channels have recently linked the success of certain footballers to Islam, using their coverage of the sport to promote religion.
One of these channels, Al Daeya, broadcasted a program named Remontada, which featured Salafi advocate and media presenter Hazem Shoman using matches and players, including international stars Messi and Ronaldo, to explain a number of Islamic issues.
In one of the episodes, Shoman celebrated Egypt's World Cup qualification as part of his discussion on Islam’s interpretations of the Day of Judgement.
In another episode, Shoman said: “Harry Kane, the Tottenham Hotspur striker, is valued at 194.7 million euros. Messi, the Barcelona star, is worth 202.4 million euros. England’s Liverpool club values Mohammed Salah at 222 million euros, competing with Neymar as the world’s most expensive striker,” implying Salah’s success because he is Muslim.
Among the program’s controversial episodes, Shoman used the term “scorer,” to explain to the audience the opportunities of being “scorers” in Islam.
The presenter’s predecessor, Sameh Abdel Hamid Hamouda, has praised the program. He sees it as a serious effort to reach youth and speak their language in order to bring them closer to God and “prevent them from walking the path of the devil.”
Meanwhile, another religious TV show on the Salafi-themed Al Rahma channel in Egypt used football to preach Islam, despite a large number of Salafi sheikhs who have previously forbid the clash of faith and football.
The owner of the channel, Sheikh Mohamed Hassan, described footballs in an old fatwa (religious edict) as “silly pieces of leather that the Jews glorified across many nations.”
Hassan added that he believed people waste their time while watching football, saying: “You do not worry about religion when your only concern is football.”