A West Midlands Christian League football match had to be abandoned after violence broke out. The league was set up to promote the values of Christianity, love, peace and understanding.
According to the Sunday Mercury, the league requires all players to behave, both on and off the pitch:
in a manner that is morally, decently and ethically sound of action and speech, and is honouring to the name of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, according to league rules, players are expected "to turn the other cheek" if confronted.
The Birmingham Mail notes the league was set up in 1979 to offer Saturday fixtures, so ensuring churchgoing footballers did not have to miss Sunday church services.
However, the match between Common Ground United and Zion Athletic at the Churchfields playing fields off Newton Road became rather tense after a Common Ground player was sent off in the 47th minute for "serious foul play", according to the Telegraph. When a penalty was awarded in the 60th minute, actual fighting broke out. By the time the players had been separated and the match abandoned, six Common Ground players were facing charges of violent misconduct. One Zion Athletic player is also facing a charge of improper conduct.
The Sunday Mercury reports that shocked league bosses have blamed the recent influx of non-Christian players. Common Ground founder Tony Sadla, a deacon at Living Stones of Christ Embassy church, in Perry Barr, Birmingham, said:
Some of the kids come to church and some of them don't, and those are no longer church-going Christians.