It’s a Premier League ritual and a big moment for the man of the match… as he is presented with a large bottle of champagne in the tunnel after the game.
But a series of embarrassing incidents involving Muslim footballers has prompted the league to offer a non-alcoholic alternative from the Middle East.
From now on, any Muslim man of the match will be rewarded with a bottle of waard – a combination of rosewater and pomegranate seen as a more ‘culturally appropriate’ token of their achievement.
Earlier this year, Premier League sponsor Barclays considered scrapping the award altogether after one of Manchester City’s star players, Yaya Toure, turned down his prize on live TV, telling a teammate: ‘I don’t drink because I am a Muslim, so you keep it.’
Last weekend, Newcastle United striker Demba Ba, declined even to pass team-mate Jonas Gutierrez the champagne after Gutierrez was voted man of the match
Ba, whose goal celebration is the Sujood, the prostration performed in prayer to Allah, is one of four Muslim players at Newcastle.
The others are Papiss Cisse, Leon Best and Hatem Ben Arfa. Muslim players at Manchester City include Toure and his brother Kolo, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri.