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Do Muslim Footy Players Have to Fast During Big Games?

So, Liverpool F.C. have made it to the Champions League final against Real Madrid. It’s scheduled to take place on 26th May (which is obvs during the holy month of Ramadan) at 7.45pm – and, annoyingly for the Muslim players, it kicks off an hour before sunset.

We don’t need to tell you guys that (if they are physically able to) Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset during this holy time. Mo Salah, Sadio Mané and Emre Can are all expected to play in the final and they have all confirmed that they will be fasting. Similarly, we have the F.A. Cup Final, between Chelsea and Man U, coming up – on 19th May – and it’s due to kick off at 17:15, well before sunset. Muslim players like Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini and N’Golo Kanté are very likely to take part in the match, but they have not confirmed if they will be fasting or not yet.

With some keyboard warriors commentators claiming that fasting could affect a player’s energy levels during a match, it does raise a question: Do they need to fast? According to the Qur’an, if a Muslim is travelling, it’s perfectly acceptable for them to make up the fast on a later date. Equally, if a Muslim isn’t an adult, is suffering from an illness or is on their menstrual cycle, they are also not required to fast.

God says in chapter 2, verse 184 of the Qur’an: “Fast for a specific number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, on other days later. For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate – feed a needy person. But if anyone does good of his own accord, it is better for him, and fasting is better for you, if only you knew.”

Continued below. 

Nathan Ellington, a 36-year-old ex-Premier League player who converted to Islam at a young age, spoke to the BBC about fasting at the height of the season. During his career, he played for a bunch of teams including Wigan Athletic, West Bromwich Albion, Derby County and Watford.

“Well, every healthy adult Muslim should and must fast, but, if you’re travelling or not well, then you can choose to make up this fast another day,” he explained. “If a player chooses not to fast during a tournament, they have a whole year to make this up.” He added: “The only way this could become an issue would be if the player was playing in his hometown. This means he’s not travelling, so the dispensation doesn’t apply in the same way.”

So, there you have it folks: A Muslim player can choose to postpone their fast until after their sporting commitments are done. Although it’s also useful to note that just because a player is fasting doesn’t mean that they can’t smash it on the pitch. One notable example of that is Sonny Bill Williams, the New Zealand international rugby player who is Muslim. Last year we wrote about the fact that he had no problem smashing into other large men, with the force of a small freight train, and scoring tries whilst he was fasting during Ramadan.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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