Football has become more diverse and inclusive than ever before
Liverpool’s 4-1 win this weekend over Cardiff City came from three Muslim footballers.
Sadio Mane’s brace, in addition to Mohamed Salah and Xherdan Shaqiri scoring apiece, firmly established the All Reds’ dominance in the game.
The significance of all three scorers being Muslim might not seem too great, until you take a look at the facts.
When the English Premier League was introduced 26 years ago, there was only one Muslim player – Mohammed Ali Amar for Tottenham Hotspur.
Today, there are over 50 Muslims in the first teams in the Premier League.
In 1992, Ali Amar, who played under the name Nayim, scored 18 goals in 144 matches.
But Salah has already scored 17 goals in 21 games, more than Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Isco and Marco Asensio combined.
Salah and Mane celebrate their goals by prostrating to God on the pitch.
What began as just another occasional celebration has almost become a regularity.
There are plenty of other Muslims who are making great strides in football.
Benzema notwithstanding, German World Cup winners Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi are often seen praying before matches.
Paul Pogba posted photos on Instagram of his pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj.
Riyad Mahrez helped Leicester City win the big one and is now a winger for Manchester City.
The reason is very simple.
Football has become more diverse and inclusive than ever before.
As eagle-eyed scouts scour villages in Africa, the rues in France, and everything else in between, they keep finding many, many impressive football talents who just need an opportunity.
Despite their move to the big leagues under the spotlight, many of them still cling to their faith as a cornerstone of their identity, a gesture that most clubs have happily accommodated.
According to a BBC report, Muslim footballers who declined to be showered in champagne after a victory made valid points, and teams changed out the practice for trophies instead.