Newcastle United fans praised for welcoming Muslim players

Newcastle United star Leon Best has hailed the Geordie public for the way they have welcomed the squad’s new Muslim players.

Best also spoke about Show Racism the Red Card, a charity attempting to stamp out bigotry in the game.

The Newcastle-based group uses the public profile of professional footballers as role models to combat racism.

The striker discussed his experiences of racism prior to the recent abuse allegations concerning England captain John Terry. “We’ve got a few Muslim players here at Newcastle United, like Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa,” said Best, who was born in Ireland.

“I have a few friends that are Muslim as well and, again, I can understand there is a lot of racism towards them but I don’t see much of it myself.

“It isn’t right though and it shouldn’t exist. They are probably the most humble players, and in life they are probably the most strict on themselves.

“It doesn’t matter about religion. I’ve met Muslims, Catholics, Jewish people, all kinds and they are all the same, all lovely people.

“I’d never played with Muslim players before Demba and Hatem, but I get on perfectly well with them.”

Best went on to praise the work of the Show Racism the Red Card campaign and pledged to back its work in any way he could.

“It’s unbelievable the work it does,” he said. “I think that if, when I was younger, there was a campaign like that around I would definitely have had a lot less fights and would of also had somebody to go to.

“I think the success of it shows that kids these days don’t need to be scared to say anything and that they should go and tell their parents.

“I was young and naive, but I think these days kids are a lot more mature so will try and speak to someone about it rather than fight.

“If I could turn back time that’s one thing I would definitely change. I would go back and tell someone and get it out in the open to let everyone know what’s happening.”