Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse (PA Photos)
Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse earned plenty of praise from both inside and out of football when he refused to compromise his religious principles by wearing a shirt promoting money lenders Wonga.
The Magpies were understandably dismayed when their striker tried to undermine the shirt sponsorship deal with the pay day loans company, who charge interest rates equivalent to 5,853 per cent APR in what many see as a legalised form of loan sharking.
Cisse objected to the sponsorship on religious and ethical grounds. He has offered to wear a charity-branded shirt instead, but no agreement has yet been reached, which saw him miss the club's pre-season tour.
The Senegalese striker has apparently given up his moral high ground in spectacular fashion, however: a man who is claimed to be Cisse has been pictured on Twitter playing Blackjack at a casino.
The Daily Mirror reports that the photo was taken by Newcastle fan Andrew McNally at the Aspers casino in Newcastle, with McNally claiming that the star was happy to chat away about upcoming fixtures while staking £10 and £20 at a time on hands of Blackjack.
Image - Andrew McNally, Twitter
"A number of fans have said that they have seen him in there. You have to say it does undermine his stance on Wonga," McNally told the paper, and Newcastle fans have been up in arms on Twitter about the player's hypocrisy.
At the same time, Cisse is under fire from the exact opposite direction: Abu Tayeb, founder of the Islamic Diversity Centre, accused Cisse of hypocrisy by claiming that he should have made the exact same protest when asked to wear the shirt bearing the Virgin Money logo last season.
"Islam considers interest in all its forms impermissible. Whether it’s Virgin Money, Northern Rock, Barclays Bank, Lloyds TSB, Wonga – whoever it might be, interest is completely prohibited," he told Sky Tyne & Wear.
"Even though I support Papiss Cisse over this decision not to promote Wonga the issue for me is the inconsistency."
Tayeb added that he had plenty of sympathy for Cisse, since refusing to honour a contract is also a sin in Islam.
But he believes that, on balance, Cisse should still stick to his guns on the issue of Wonga's sponsorship.
"In Islam contracts are so important and in fact it is a major sin to break a contract. To give or take interest is completely impermissible and to promote it comes under that category as well because it is seen as exploitative," he explained.
"Only he knows what is the right thing to do but what I would say is not wearing the sponsorship logo is the right thing to do because maintaining a contract only affects him, by breaking the contract and not wearing the logo, it effectively affects thousands of people."
Cisse has yet to comment on the latest twists in the ongoing saga, which have seen the player forced to train on his own and other clubs - including big-spending Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala - apparently keen to make an offer.
As far as World of Sport is concerned, this seems a pretty clear issue: like many religious people of every creed around the world, Cisse adheres to many of the tenets of his faith while skirting over some of the others. There are Christians who co-habit before marriage, Muslims who enjoy the odd beer, Jews who love a bacon sandwich and Hindus who love a burger.
There's no doubt that the revelation about Cisse appears to undermine his refusal to wear the shirt on religious grounds. That said, he has always maintained that it is as much a moral issue as it is a religious one, and on that basis his point is as valid as it ever was.
We're still talking about the club selling its shirt front to a company which makes its money via business practices that stand accused of targeting the most vulnerable people in society for profit. Cisse may well find that his shirt boycott resonates with some fans.