The month of Ramadan is considered one of the holiest months in Islam and it is marked by a period of fasting for Muslims.
This year, Ramadan began on the evening of March 22 and it is expected to end on the evening of April 20 or 21.
To ensure the safety of Muslim players observing Ramadan and helping them to maintain fitness, the Premier League, Eredivisie, and Championship have been pausing evening matches to allow players to break their fast.
However, France Football Federation has refused to join other leagues in permitting fasting Muslim players to break their fast during matches.
And French Ligue1 is one of the top leagues in Europe that has refused to follow the trend of other Leagues following its rejection to allow fasting players to observe Ramadan break during matches.
According to the official statement released by the FFF, the reason behind their refusal is owed to the federation’s conception that football is to be detached from religion, politics, and sentiments.
An official email of the FFF reads: “Football does not take into account the political, religious, ideological, or syndical [trade unions] considerations of its actors.”
Following the French football federation’s warning, Nantes defender Jaouen Hadjam was absent during his side’s 3-0 Ligue 1 defeat to Reims on Sunday, April 2 because he did not want to break the Ramadan fast prematurely.
Six Muslim players are observing Ramadan in Nantes but the 20-year-old Algeria international Hadjam is the only one who insists he would fast even on match days.
Nantes coach, Antoine Kombouare said he will not use a player who is fasting to avoid injury.
“But on matchday, you don’t have to fast. It’s very intense, you have to be ready. Those who fast aren’t in the group – I don’t want them to injure themselves”, he said.
“In the week, there are no worries for those who fast. I’m ready to support them.”
The dropping of Nantes’s player Jaouen Hadjam for wanting to maintain his fast indicates football game isn’t homogenous as it ought to be in terms of inclusion and diversity.
Meanwhile, The France Football Federation’s refusal to join other leagues in allowing Muslim players time to break their fast has sparked hot reactions from football fans and stakeholders all over the world.
PSG fans have reacted to the French Football Federation, who banned Muslim players from breaking their fasts during games.
Fans of the Ligue 1 club displayed a banner during the match against Lyon on Sunday, April 2nd which read: “A dates, a glass of water: nightmare for the F.F.F”
Major Leagues that are observing Ramadan Break
Halting matches during Ramadan isn’t new in English football as matches in the Premier League have been paused in the past for Muslim players to break their fast.
Burnley’s league match against Southampton last season was halted in the 41st minute to allow Mohamed Elyounoussi and Yan Valery to refuel.
In April 2021, former Leicester City defender (now Chelsea star) Wesley Fofana was also allowed to break his fast during Leicester City and Crystal Palace’s Premier League encounter.
During the match, Guaita paused to take a goal-kick in the first half of the evening game against Leicester to allow Fofana take liquids before he returned to football action.
And there’s not any exemption this season as messages have been sent to referees ahead of Ramadan to allow players to break their fast in England’s top flight.
The referees have been encouraged to wait for a natural stoppage that will be at the earliest convenient moment during the play, such as a goal kick, free, kick, or throw-in, before pausing the game.
This inception has made football wonderful seeing Muslim footballers maintaining their balance and playing at the top level while being steadfast in their faith.
The players’ vitality is evident in Everton’s game against Tottenham on Monday the 3rd of April.
The match was halted in the 26th minute to allow players that had been fasting during the day to take on energy supplements.
Three Muslim players were in their best form for Sean Dyche’s side in the rivalry matchup that ended in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park despite fasting.
Toffees trio Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana, and Idrissa Gueye showed no sign of fatigue even before they came to the side of the pitch to take on fluids in the 26th minute.
Also, Chelsea’s match against Liverpool in London on Tuesday, April 4 didn’t go without noticing the impressive performance of Kalidou Koulibaly who is one of the Muslim players observing the Ramadan fast.
A Bundesliga match was also stopped for the first time in history last season to enable Mainz player Moussa Niakhate to break his fast.
As soon as the sunset during Mainz’s game against Augsburg on April 6, referee Matthias Jollenbeck paused the game so Moussa could re-fuel.
List of Premier League matches to be paused during the Ramadan
Wednesday, April 5 (7:40pm sunset)
West Ham vs Newcastle, 8pm
Manchester United vs Brentford, 8pm
Monday, April 17 (8pm sunset)
Leeds vs Liverpool, 8pm
Friday, April 21 (8:06pm sunset)
Arsenal vs Southampton, 8pm
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