Wembley played host to an Open Iftar for Ramadan and Vaisakhi celebration this month

Friday 21 Apr 2023
Representatives from Sru Guru Singh Sabha Southall Gurdwara delivered hymns and prayers for Vaisakhi at Wembley Stadium

To celebrate the religious festivals of Ramadan and Vaisakhi in 2023, we were pleased to welcome over 1600 people to Wembley Stadium earlier this month as part of our Faith and Football series which connect stakeholders across the game to football via their faith.

 First up on Saturday 15 April, we hosted an Open Iftar to follow on from last year’s successful event at the stadium.

Partnering with Ramadan Tent Project, Iftar is the meal prepared and offered to Muslims observing Ramadan when breaking their fast.

A call to prayer at the 2023 Open Iftar at Wembley Stadium

And visitors from both the local area and beyond were first welcomed to Wembley by a selection of VIPs including The Lord Mayor of Brent Councillor Abdi Aden, the Lord Mayor of Westminster Councillor Hamza Taouzzale, His Excellency Turkish Ambassador to the UK, Koray ErtaƟ and Councillor Muhammad Butt, Leader of Brent Council.

They were then treated to a special panel featuring former England Women’s star Rachel Yankey, former men’s professional players Michael Chopra and Anwar Uddin and Abu Nasir of our National Game Board. There was then a call to prayer, which took place inside the bowl of Wembley Stadium, before the fast was broken and food served.

The famous arch of Wembley was lit in teal colours marking the ten year anniversary of the Ramadan Tent Project.

Guests at the Open Iftar break their fast during Ramadan

Two days later on Monday 17 April, we celebrated the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi which marks the creation of the Khalsa.

This was also observed within the Stadium bowl with Qi Rattan performing religious hymns and the prayer of Chaupai Sahib and Ardaas, delivered by representatives from Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall Gurdwara.

After the Ardaas was performed, guests then enjoyed food provided by Midland Langar Seva Society before a host of guests spoke, including the FA’s Deji Davies and Dal Singh Darroch, Preet Gill MP (APPG Leader for British Sikhs) and Amandeep Singh from Basics of Sikhi providing an overview on the significance of Vaisakhi and its meaning.

 

Broadcaster Harpz Kaur and journalist Amrit Singh Mann of Sky News then took to the stage to speak to more special guests from within football to talk about their careers and Sikh backgrounds.

These included the likes of current players Brandon Khela (Birmingham City FC), Reiss Khela (Leicester City), Kira Rai (Derby County), Aston Villa first team sport scientist, Aman Shergill, the Premier League’s Head of EDI Kuljit Randhawa, co-founder and Manager of Punjab Utd FC Gravesend Chipie Sian as well as former referee Jarnail Singh and FA Board member Rupinder Bains. The event was closed by vocalist and performer, Amrit Kaur.

Reiss Khela (Leicester City) and Brandon Khela (Birmingham City FC) spoke at the Vaisakhi celebration event at Wembley Stadium

Wembley’s arch was again lit in the orange colour of the Khalsa and guests from across the country revelled in the FA’s first Vaisakhi event held at the stadium.

Dal Singh Darroch, head of diversity and inclusion strategic programmes at the FA said: "Our faith events in April this year have been hugely successful. Thanks again to all for attending and to all partners involved.

"We know that communities connect with the game in many ways and faith is one such avenue. We're very proud to drive this work forward and the high volumes of people engaging with us at Wembley Stadium is testament to that. I look forward to marking more faith events across all religions this season."

To learn more about the FA’s work in faith and equality, diversity and inclusion see:-

• A Game For All - The FA’s Anti-discrimination Strategy 2021 -2024.
The FA’s Anti-discrimination pages.
• The FA’s Faith and Football Calendar and The FA’s latest ‘Belief in the Game’ guidance
• The FA’s Asian Inclusion page and strategy updates (including our latest report)
• Our specific campaigns: The FA’s ‘Football and Me’ series one and series two, focusing on Asians in the game at all levels
• Our latest Ramadan guidance for 2023

By Nicholas Veevers Content Manager - FA Owned Channels