The winning team of the Football Association Challenge Cup will no longer receive a celebratory champagne gift at the end of the game in deference to players whose religion forbids alcohol consumption.
The FA Cup, the oldest football competition in the world, has traditionally ended with players joyfully spraying sparkling wine on the pitch and drinking it in the clubhouse, but those days have officially come to an end.
“Winning teams will be awarded with non-alcoholic ‘champagne’ for their celebrations in all FA competitions, starting from this year’s Emirates FA Cup Final,” an FA spokesman told the Daily Mail.
“This is to ensure that we are as inclusive as possible to players and communities who may be prohibited from alcohol, as well as any players who are under 18.”
The Mail reports that the decision was not a result of complaints or outside pressure, but an internal one that has been planned for some time.
“FA chiefs had considered implementing the change sooner but were concerned that they would be branded as ‘party-poopers,’” the paper was told.
Representatives of British Islamic groups praised the decision in statements provided to Sportsmail.
“Such a move can only be seen as a positive step in the direction of inclusiveness and opening the game to everyone whilst accommodating for their different backgrounds and beliefs,” said Anas Altikriti, president of the Muslim Association of Britain.
“We have all recently seen high profile discriminatory incidents in men’s and women’s football towards players from many diverse communities, including those from the Muslim faith,” the Muslim Council of Britain announced.
While many media outlets have tip-toed around the implications of the policy change, Swiss newspaper 20 Minutes published a grim headline that could prove unwittingly prescient down the line:
“Out of respect for Islam, champagne disappears.”
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Dan Lyman: Follow @CitizenAnalyst