A church in Ghana’s capital Accra has held a special “Chelsea FC Thanksgiving Service” to celebrate a successful season in which the English club lifted the EPL trophy.
Pastor Azigiza, an assistant pastor of the Living Streams International Church in Accra, Ghana told the BBC that the thanksgiving service was organized to bring people closer to God using football. Azigiza, a long-time Chelsea supporter encouraged the congregation to attend the service wearing jerseys of their favorite Chelsea player.
Some pictures from the service which have surfaced on social media show Pastor Azigiza, a former radio disc jockey, standing behind a Chelsea themed cake shaped like a football pitch surrounded by other worshippers donning Chelsea jerseys.
According to the BBC, Azigiza later led the congregation to sing a verse of the Chelsea anthem— Blue is the Color, before playfully mocking Dr Ebenezer Markwei, the senior pastor of the Living Streams International Church—an avowed supporter of Arsenal FC— over the not too impressive performances of Arsenal in the last league season.
With the crème of Africa’s football talent plying their trade for top English sides, the English Premier League enjoys a large and passionate following among football lovers in Ghana and the rest of Africa.
In 2005, Chelsea signed Ghanaian midfielder Micheal Essien, and a year later added Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel to the squad.
A 2015 survey on twitter revealed that Chelsea FC was the most popular English football in Ghana and much of west Africa.
Delivering his sermon, Pastor Markwei urged his congregation to shun unhealthy rivalries and learn to rejoice in the success of others. He said there was “the good, the bad and the ugly” side of rivalry pointing out that fans of opposing football teams should always engage in a friendly rivalry.
He stressed that it was Christ-like to rejoice in the successes of others so as to enjoy a similar measure of goodwill from others.
However, it appears not many people took whole heartedly to the idea of mixing faith with football, going by the comments on the BBC’s Facebook page after it posted the story.
Some of the comments criticized the football thanksgiving service as a not-so-smart attempt to feed off the success of a football club from far away across the Atlantic, while ignoring the achievements of local clubs like the Accra hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko.