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FA to scrap tradition of awarding case of champagne to FA Cup winners

  /  autty

The Football Association are to scrap the tradition of awarding a case of champagne to the FA Cup winners out of respect for players' religious beliefs.

English football's governing body have a long held tradition of placing a case of bubbly in the winning dressing room on cup final day as a congratulatory gesture to the victors.

But following internal discussions the FA are abandoning the idea so not to offend players whose religious beliefs forbid alcohol use.

The Muslim faith strictly prohibits alcohol, while it is not recommended in other religions. Some players are also tee-total and under the legal age to consume alcohol, further considerations for the FA.

Jubilant scenes of euphoric players spraying champagne around the winning dressing room following victory in the final have become the norm over the years.

But such scenes provide obvious difficulties for Muslim players, even if they do not consume the champagne.

The FA will instead put a case of an alcohol-free champagne substitute in the winning dressing room so players can replicate those spraying celebrations.

The FA's decision is not believed to have been the result of complaints from teams or players in the past but prompted within the organisation.

Sportsmail understands the FA had considered implementing the change sooner but were fully aware of being branded 'party-poopers'.

The governing body have done their utmost to tackle the issue of multi-race and multi-faith issues that have become so prevalent in football in recent months. This move underlines their commitment to that work.

Watford face Manchester City in this year's cup final on May 18. Watford midfielder Abdolulaye Doucoure, along with Manchester City stars Riyad Mahrez, Benjamin Mendy and Ilkay Gundogan follow Islamic faith.

The Premier League stopped providing alcoholic champagne as man of the match awards in 2012 after Muslim players refused to accept the bottles.

An FA spokesman said: 'Winning teams will be awarded with non-alcoholic 'champagne' for their celebrations in all FA competitions, starting from this year's Emirates FA Cup Final.

'This is to ensure that we are as inclusive as possible to players and communities who may be prohibited from alcohol, as well as any players who are under 18.'