LONDON: Hundreds of British Muslims in Blackburn, northern England, flocked to their local football club’s ground on Monday to conduct Eid prayers on the pitch.
Blackburn Rovers have become the first British club to host Eid prayers on their ground, Ewood Park, with footage captured by locals and the football club showing half the pitch covered with prayer mats.
A sermon was conducted at the football ground, which is supported by many British Muslims in one of the country’s most densely populated Muslim areas.
Rovers tweeted: “Eid Mubarak from everyone at Blackburn Rovers. This morning #Rovers became the first football club in the country to host Eid prayers on the pitch.”
New arrivals to the town expressed their delight at the football club’s Eid prayers initiative. “Eid for Muslims is something very special, gathering all the relatives together,” Sudan-born Ahmed Khalifa, 37, who arrived from the UAE just four months ago, told The Guardian. “This time, for us especially, we miss our relatives so much.”
He added: “So it was a very big deal for us to have this group of people. So happy to see all these people there. The people of Blackburn, they all seem like part of a community, but for me coming new to this city … now I’m feeling like a part of the community.”
Muslims from across the world praised Blackburn for hosting the prayers, with tweeters based in the Middle East and North Africa announcing that they were now supporting Rovers after the move.
One student tweeted: “My newfound team, Insha Allah. Thank you Blackburn Rovers.”
Mohamed Haouari, an Algerian based in Qatar, said: “Blackburn Rovers are massive.”
But while Blackburn were the first British football club to host Eid prayers on its pitch, it was not the only British sporting establishment to invite Muslims to pray at its facilities.
In Birmingham, often dubbed Britain’s second city, Edgbaston cricket ground partnered with a local mosque to host Eid prayers at its training ground.
Larger congregations were held across the country, with 30,000 gathering at Small Heath park in Birmingham and 20,000 attending prayers at Manchester’s Platt Fields park.