Muslim-run football club bans alcohol, shocks Belgians

In Vilvoorde, near Brussels, a football club managed by Belgian Muslims decided to stop serving beer in its cafeteria. Many white residents were offended by the ban, and fear that Islam is encroaching on Belgian culture.

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Muslim-run football club bans alcohol, shocks Belgians - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

When it comes to ethnic backgrounds, Vilvoorde is as diverse as can be. But have its inhabitants learned to live together, or are they tolerating one another?

Daily dissensions, like the local football club's controversial alcohol ban, show the struggle.

The decision of the Moroccan-Belgian club managers was extensively criticized, and the team now has trouble attracting white players.

On one hand, the freedom to assemble and to practice a religion are fundamental rights. On the other, banning certain behaviors on the grounds of religion can feel like taking a step backwards. Or is it a step forward in acceptance?

Club manager Carime Fnine says he was also motivated by health reasons, arguing that Belgium's love for alcohol is detrimental. He adds: "If people want to go for a drink somewhere else then they are free to do so." 

Both sides have valid arguments, but the issue proves that, in cities like Vilvoorde, social inclusion is a challenge in every area of life -- even in sport. 

Details from the story:

  • Football Club Vilvoorde, a team aiming to unite youth players of different ethnic backgrounds, decided to ban alcohol in its cafeteria three years ago.
  • Since the decision was taken by Muslim managers, Belgians -- mostly white -- were shocked. In their eyes, beer and football is holy Belgian tradition that cannot be tampered with.
  • In Vilvoorde the club has the reputation of being a "Muslim club".
  • The club's management says it banned alcohol for religious reasons, but also to provide a healthier environment.
  • "We have to be an example for the youth", says manager Carime Fnine.
  • Recently a visiting soccer team collectively left the cafeteria to protest against the alcohol ban.
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at