Cisse in casino pic controversy?
Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse has been warned he cannot pick and choose elements of Islam after being photographed in a casino.
The 28-year-old Senegal international is currently at the center of a wrangle with his club over his refusal to wear the logo of payday loan company Wonga on his shirt. Muslims are forbidden to benefit from interest payments - or Riba - under Islamic Law, and Cisse is uncomfortable about being asked to endorse Wonga.
However, a picture has emerged of Cisse at the city's Aspers Casino, and despite agent Madou Diene's insistence that he is not a gambler - something else which is prohibited by his religion - Newcastle City Councillor Dipu Ahad has insisted the striker cannot have it both ways. Mr. Ahad told Press Association Sport: "There are no grey areas in Islam when it comes to interest-based loans and there are no grey areas with regards to gambling.
"For example, alcohol is forbidden, adultery is forbidden, gambling is forbidden and earning interest is forbidden. You can't pick and choose. If he has come out and said he is not going to wear the Wonga shirt, brilliant, but what really grates on me is people using religion for their own gain.
"I don't know what he's seeking to achieve. People say he wants to move away from Newcastle United - that's his business, I haven't spoken to him. If he wants to wear the Wonga shirt or not or gamble or not is up to him, it's between him and God."
Mr. Ahad, who represents the city's Elswick ward, had previously applauded Cisse's stance over Wonga, a situation which is threatening the £9million man's continued presence on Tyneside. The player, who has been linked with a lucrative move to Russia during the closed-season, has enlisted the help of the Professional Footballers' Association in an effort to resolve the situation with talks to date having resulted in little progress.
Cisse has offered to wear an unbranded or charity-dedicated shirt, but the feeling behind the scenes at St. James' Park is that he, like his Muslim team-mates who have agreed to display the Wonga branding, is contractually obliged to do so.
Mr Ahad said: "I was really proud of him standing up against Wonga because he was someone standing up for his beliefs.
"Now it appears he's been into a casino and that just makes everyone think there are people in our religion who pick and choose. That detracts from the goodness of Islam. It's quite naive of him. He's quite young and he's a footballer, but please don't use religion for your own gain.
"You have to be wise in religion. It's not a game, it's not a joke. That's the problem, that's why people have a bad perception of religion today."
Manager Alan Pardew is currently playing a waiting game over his frontline with Cisse's future uncertain and the club engaged in the pursuit of Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis and Aston Villa's Darren Bent. Pardew has admitted he is badgering new director of football Joe Kinnear as he attempts to push through a deal.
He told the Chronicle: "I'm pushing Joe to get a transfer in. I think we need a boost now. We are in a situation where we want to progress now. The team is in a good place."
It was Shola Ameobi who scored Newcastle's equalizer in last night's 1-1 friendly draw with Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal amid rumours he could leave the club this summer, although given his lack of strength in depth, Pardew is reluctant to allow that to happen.
He said: "Shola is a player that is under contract here. He's not made any noises to me that he wants to leave. Certainly with my striker situation at the moment, I need as many as I can get."