Prayer rooms will be set up at all Aussie Rules stadiums following a request by a devout Muslim player to ensure fans do not have to pray in the car park.
The move prompted claims of “political correctness gone mad” but was largely met with amusement by fans who began issuing prayers for their teams on websites and a newly-created prayer room app for mobile phones.
The sporting code decided last week to introduce the multi-faith rooms as a “demonstration of our inclusiveness” following a request by Bachar Houli, believed to be the first observant Muslim player, who said it would lure more Muslims to the game.
“I speak for the Muslim community, I get complaints [that] there is nowhere to pray other than the car park,” said Mr Houli, who plays for the Richmond club. “It can be quite disturbing [to pray] with people walking through to the game.”
Some Christian and Jewish leaders also backed the rooms, saying they were already common in airports and hospitals.
However the move caused a backlash led by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, now president of the Hawthorn club, who said the rooms were “absolute rubbish”.
“To put prayer rooms into sporting venues is not part of the Australian lexia, that’s not the way in which we behave,” he told SBS Television…I think it’s an overreaction … It’s not practical, it’s stupid, it’s political correctness gone mad…”
On the message board for Playup’s sports social media app, users issued various prayers for their team to win or for their wives to let them watch without changing the channel…
“I pray for the miracle of a pies loss AND a bombers loss today,” said one fan. “Will take a draw if this proves too difficult for the almighty…”
My mates in Oz who belong to the only true religion — followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — are filing a request for the food stalls to begin offering pointy food as required by our religion.