Papiss Cisse Withdraws from Newcastle United Preseason Tour

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2013

Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse refuses to wear the logo of club sponsor Wonga, citing religious and ethical objections, and the decision is now forcing him to miss the club's tour ahead of the upcoming campaign.


UPDATE: Thursday, July 25, at 10:20 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

BBC Sport's Ben Smith has the latest on Papiss Cisse and Newcastle United:

Papiss Cisse and Newcastle have reached an agreement that means the striker will wear the club's Wonga logo on his shirt despite his religious beliefs.

Cisse, a Muslim, pulled out of Newcastle's pre-season tour after telling the club he was not prepared to promote the money-lending company.

However, after a week of talks, both sides are satisfied and Cisse is now available to play for Newcastle again.

The 28-year-old will return to training with the first-team squad on Friday.

 ---End of update---


---Original Text---

Ben Smith of the BBC reports, "Papiss Cisse has pulled out of Newcastle's preseason tour to Portugal after refusing to wear club sponsor Wonga's logo on religious grounds." Cisse offered to wear a different logo featuring a charity or a jersey without branding, but he doesn't feel comfortable promoting the club's new sponsor.

Wonga is a payday loan company that has received criticism from the public over high interest rates that "allegedly target the poor," according to Simon Bird of the Daily Mirror.

Newcastle teammates Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko are also Muslim but have raised no issues with the sponsorship, according to the report. So Cisse's decision leaves the club in a difficult position as the new campaign approaches.

It leaves Cisse's future in doubt, with sources describing the relationship between the parties as "strained."

The Newcastle forward and his representatives have been in talks with club officials and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) in recent days but neither the club nor their shirt sponsor have been able to find a solution.

The Senegalese striker has emerged as a key piece of the Magpies attack since joining the club from SC Freiburg. He's scored 26 goals across all competitions, including four during Newcastle's Europa League run last season.

Finding some type of common ground that's acceptable for the club, the sponsor and the striker is obviously the preferred scenario, but it's easier said than done.

Nobody wants to infringe on Cisse's religious beliefs, as he's an important member of the squad, but the sponsor agreed to a four-year, £24 million deal to work with Newcastle. Wonga wants to get featured prominently in return for its investment.

As mentioned in the report, Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief Bobby Barnes told the BBC last month he understood the stance of all sides and hoped a solution could be found. It's undoubtedly turning out to be a much bigger roadblock than anticipated, though.

We're all aware that clubs need to generate revenue and sometimes have to use a wide range of companies.

However, if someone feels very, very strongly that it's not compatible with their beliefs, then some sort of solution should be found.

Unless one of the sides alters its stance, the stalemate appears poised to continue. It's not good news for Newcastle, as they prepare to begin the new campaign next month.