An Egyptian soccer player breaks the grip of Islamophobia

Religion and sports has married in the world of soccer where the faithful fans of Liverpool have created an “I’ll be Muslim too” chant to honor their star player, Mohamed Salah, the BBC says.

“Mo Sa-la-la-la-lah, Mo Sa-la-la-la-lah, if he’s good enough for you, he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim too.”

Catchy.

This week he became the 13th player in Liverpool FC’s 125-year history to score 30 goals in a season.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Virgil van Dijk after scoring his sides second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on February 4, 2018 in Liverpool, England. Michael Regan | Getty Images

It’s a victory over the rising racism of soccer, Al Jazeera says.

In a report on February 7, Kick It Out – an organisation working to end discrimination in football, said the number of incidents of discrimination at the midway point of the 2017 – 2018 season had risen.

The organisation received more than 300 reports relating to 282 incidents of discriminatory abuse by the end of 2017, covering the professional game, grassroots football and social media. This marked an increase of 59 percent from the same period last season, when there were 177 incidents.

Winning makes people feel good, said Football Against Racism in Europe executive director Piara Powar. If that’s what it takes to break down barriers, so be it.

“Good players break down barriers,” Piara said. “We know that an appreciation of someone as a player does lead to a look into their identity and, for many fans, an acceptance of their identity.”

Is it the end of Islamaphobia? Of course not. But it’s a start.