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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 December 2007, 16:06 GMT
Devout worshipper
By Phil Minshull
in Madrid

Malian striker Frederic Kanoute
Kanoute is a devoted Muslim
Malian striker Frederic Kanoute has splashed out more than US$700,000 to buy his own mosque in Spain.

The mosque is located in the Spanish city of Seville, where Kaounte plays his club football for Sevilla.

The privately owned mosque was due to be sold after a contract to use the premises by the local Muslim population had expired.

But Kanoute, one of the finalists for the 2007 BBC African Footballer of the Year award, stepped in to purchase the building.

Most of Seville's Muslims who will benefit from Kanoute's gesture are immigrants from north and west Africa.

The Islamic Community of Spain confirmed that a last-minute appeal was made to Kanoute after the mosque had been put up for sale.

"The worshippers at Ponce De Leon are quite diverse but if it had not been for Kanoute then we would not have had a mosque on Fridays, which is the most holy day of the week for Muslims," a spokesman for the Islamic Community of Spain told the local paper Diario de Sevilla.

The 30-year-old striker has not made any comment on the matter.

But city authorities have confirmed that the property has been registered in Kanoute's name.

It is estimated that Kanoute has spent almost a year's salary to buy the mosque.

"We haven't got anything to say about the matter. It was a property up for sale; it's in a good area and it's a normal investment," added a Sevilla club official.

Kanoute is a devout Muslim, having made a public conversion 10 years ago.

At the start of last season, he controversially taped over the logo of the Sevilla club's shirt sponsors - internet gaming company - because he said his religion forbade the promotion of gambling.

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