Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: The Beautiful Game

The Rector

Bolton Abbey Parish Magazine

July 2018

The Beautiful Game

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.

Football fans have always been inventive in their chants from the terraces, but the song that Liverpool supporters have been singing
this season to honour their favourite player, Mohamed Salah, is remarkable. Salah, an Egyptian national and devout Muslim, joined
Liverpool last August. In his first season with them he scored more goals, thirty two, than any other player in the Premiership. No
wonder he is known as the Egyptian King at Anfield.

Football often gets a bad press, but at its best the beautiful game is able to transcend boundaries of culture, class, and even (as the
Liverpool fans’ chant shows) religion. Of course, we all know that if Salah had scored two goals rather than thirty two then the chants
would have been very different. But it is heartening that the chant in Salah’s honour has picked out a crucial element of his identity: his
religious faith. It is even more heartening to see Islam released from the negative stereotype that is so often applied to it.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul reminds us that, in Christ we are one: There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female.
Distinctions of race, gender, and class are of no relevance for Christians. Unfortunately, especially in the west, this is not always the
face we choose to present to the world, which consequently applies a stereotype to us as well: too white, too middle class, too male in its
leadership. However lazy or unfair this stereotype might be, it is worth reflecting on the truths it might be telling us about ourselves
and doing something about it. We might even get our own Anfield chant as a result.

With prayers and good wishes,

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