In an important stride towards Muslim inclusivity in football, Aston Villa Football Club has become the UK’s latest sporting institution to announce the endorsement of the Nujum Sports Muslim Athlete Charter.
The framework’s fundamental objective is to address the multifaceted needs of Muslim participants in UK sports, not just within the club itself but also within the broader football landscape.
Needless to say, this latest move by an English Premier League club underscores the growing participation of Muslims in the sport and the importance of addressing their needs.
The Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Lead at Villa said,
“We believe that football has the power to unite people from all walks of life, and our commitment to the Muslim Athlete Charter is a testament to this belief.
“This decision is a reflection of our values and a symbol of our dedication to creating a more inclusive sporting community.
“By understanding the Muslim faith and cultural needs, we can become more inclusive, welcoming, and make everyone feel truly valued and appreciated at Aston Villa.”
In recent years, the landscape of professional football has undergone a remarkable transformation, marked by a notable increase in the number of Muslim players gracing the sport.
Aston Villa’s decision to embrace the Muslim Athlete Charter reflects this changing demographic and the importance in supporting these players as they navigate their careers while staying true to their faith.
The founder and CEO of Nujum Sports, Ebadur Rahman, said of the signing by Villa,
“It is an honour to have Aston Villa join over 79 professional clubs from 5 different sports, who have all pledged to support their Muslim players, fans, and staff.
“We will be working closely with the Club for the upcoming season to make a positive impact in the sport.”
The charter is a powerful symbol of recognition and appreciation of Muslim participation and achievements in UK sport, sending a message to supporters that their presence is valued and their presence is cherished.
A growing trend
The announcement by Aston Villa is the latest among many prominent sporting associations who have already signed the Charter.
Just under 80 professional clubs from multiple sports have now become signatories to the framework, thereby highlighting a growing trend in the world of British sports; one in which the presence and participation of British Muslims is becoming increasingly prominent.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) announced its endorsement of the Muslim Charter in June, whilst the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which oversees cricket in England and Wales, recently extended their partnership with Nujum Sports. Similarly, in February, Kent Cricket, one of England’s first-class county cricket clubs, signed the Charter.  
In March, Millwall FC signed the Charter, and in October 2021, the Football Association of Wales announced its endorsement of the pledge. Earlier this year and in co-ordination with Nujum Sports, EPL and European champions Manchester City began holding Friday prayers for their Muslim athletes and staff.
The progress made by major UK sporting institutions in representing their Muslim athletes, staff, and fans highlights the important work done by Nujum Sports and other Muslim organisations who strive to represent British Muslims’ rights in different fields.
So what is the Muslim Athlete Charter?
The Muslim Athlete Charter was launched in June 2021 by Nujum Sports, an influential Muslim non-profit that seeks to defend and uphold the rights of Muslims in UK sport and highlight the many sensitive religious concerns and needs of Muslim athletes. 
The creation of the framework was arguably a revolutionary attempt to raise awareness of Muslim participation and achievements throughout UK sporting institutions, whether they be in football, cricket, rugby, or other sports.
Embedded within the Charter is an extensive checklist that meticulously addresses the specific requirements of Muslim players.
The list covers a wide spectrum of considerations, ranging from dietary requirements to religious practices, with the aim of ensuring that every Muslim athlete is able to pursue their career without compromising their values, principles, and character within their belief.
It also provides an understanding to fellow non-Muslim athletes on the religio-cultural differences and sensitivities of Muslim athletes in regards to alcohol and conduct with female athletes.
As Rahman states,
“The Nujum pledge and charter is the beginning of a journey for professional sporting organisations to contribute to the equality and diversity landscape.
“With the pledge, we hope to assist our sporting partners and affiliates to create a framework to self- evaluate and help better understand the needs of Muslim sporting professionals and their fans.
“The pledge is just the beginning and we hope that all our partners take the journey with us so we can listen, learn and initiate positive change.” 
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