14
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
Video
Video
AOL Favorites
Favorites
Menu

World Cup's Muslim players consider Ramadan fast



By Karim Kebir

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) - The Muslim players in World Cup teams that have qualified for the second round in Brazil face a thorny question on Sunday when much of the Islamic world will start observing the holy month of Ramadan with a dawn to dusk fast.

The question is trickiest for the Algerian team, which faces a formidable German side on Monday. There are also Muslims on the Nigerian and French teams and those players also will have to weigh their religious convictions against the possible effects of fasting on their performance.

"We need to discuss it among ourselves," Algerian player Djamel Mesbah said. "It's clear that our religion is very important for the team, so we will talk about it and see how to go forward."

Athletes in the Olympics in 2012 faced the same hurdle, with many teams allowing their players to eat during Ramadan so as not to impair their performance and make up for it at another time or make donations to charity.

While fasting during daytime over the 30 days of Ramadan, including abstaining from drinking liquids, is mandatory for all able bodied Muslims and one of the five pillars of Islam, there are exemptions, including for the sick, pregnant, infirm or elderly. Those traveling or going to war are also excluded and it is under this provision that most athletes will likely delay the fast until a more suitable time.

Algerian team captain Madjid Bouguerra pointed out in interviews with the Algerian press that it is a challenge Muslim players in European clubs have long faced and when he was with the Glasgow Rangers, he fasted but made sure he kept his performance up.

"The hardest thing is staying hydrated, but it's ok, the weather's good here," he said. "Some players will postpone their fast for another time, but depending on my physical condition, I think I will do it."

Bacary Sagna, a Muslim player in the French squad, said that many of the players who do it are used to it from their time in the European leagues and able to function.

"As a Muslim I know that there are certain rules that allow us to avoid it," he told The Associated Press in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil. "Personally I'm not going to do it, everyone's free to do as they will and I totally respect those that will do it."

From a religious standpoint, however, it becomes a bit more complex. Islam lacks a central hierarchy like the Catholic church and any imam can issue an opinion that is then obeyed depending on how much respect they command.

Even in Algeria, which is bathing in the euphoria of qualifying for the second round of the World Cup for the first time in its history, there have been a range of opinions from religious scholars, with some coming out quite strongly against fasting exemptions.

"It is not allowed for an Algerian player to avoiding fasting just for a game - they must fast because God is with those who fast and young people can fast and play at the same time," said Mohammed Mekerkab, the head of Algeria's association of religious scholars.

He also dismissed the exemption for travel claimed by most athletes since the provision was only for voyages undertaken in the search for knowledge, health reasons or fighting jihad.

Algeria's government-appointed High Islamic Council, however, has come down in favor of those wanting to delay their fast. Sheikh Mohammed Sherif Kaher, the head of the council's commission for religious opinions said "those playing can abstain from fasting."

Dr. Hakim Chalabi, a specialist in sports and fasting who accompanied the team to Brazil, admitted in an interview that it is a delicate question because of the need for hydration and the increased risk of injuries.

He noted, though, that fasting wasn't always a total hindrance to players.

"We are often asked to urge players not to fast, but oddly, in some cases, there are athletes that get better results during Ramadan because they are fasting and want to," he said. "It can be a spiritual and psychological aid."

Join the discussion

1000|Characters 1000  Characters
moooooooooochelle June 29 2014 at 12:07 AM

WHY NOT LET THE MUSLIMS PLAY ON THEIR HOME TURF...THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN...

Flag Reply +43 rate up
5 replies
chgovette68 June 28 2014 at 10:25 PM

Out side of other Muslims, who cares?

Flag Reply +21 rate up
1 reply
ramonbatt chgovette68 June 29 2014 at 9:44 AM

Agree!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
LA is Best June 28 2014 at 11:15 PM

No problem, if they don't fast when they get home they will be beheaded especially if they lose! What a cult!

Flag Reply +19 rate up
4 replies
s.keshvari June 29 2014 at 2:53 AM

I'm not Muslim, but I AM disgusted by the total lack of respect, knowledge and "Christian" love shown by virtually all the comments made here. Shame on you all. For those of you who claim to be Christians, you are even showing a lack of knowledge of your OWN religion, and for those of you who have no religion, you should at least inform yourself before tossing out your ignorant comments.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
12 replies
karaoke guy June 28 2014 at 11:23 PM

my cuzzin bubba - him and me feel right surry bout these boys not eetin so's we gunna sent them sum puulled pork sangwidges. Yeehah !!

Flag Reply +14 rate up
2 replies
vendelavee karaoke guy June 29 2014 at 10:58 AM

And Bush had no problem with the boys (soldiers) dying in Iraq over WMD's that didn't exists

Flag Reply +1 rate up
3 replies
William karaoke guy June 29 2014 at 8:56 PM

I see vemdelavee forgot about 9/11 or was never taught it in school

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Mike June 29 2014 at 7:30 AM

Anything to take people's mind off the fact the whole religion is centered around a prophet who married a six year old girl.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
3 replies
ram4131 June 28 2014 at 11:41 PM

Would biting opposing players be acceptable?

Flag Reply +11 rate up
3 replies
soccer_sucks June 28 2014 at 11:18 PM

So do they play with there AK47'S

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
FRED soccer_sucks June 29 2014 at 6:28 AM

No, bomb vests.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jijjhnsn soccer_sucks June 29 2014 at 9:41 AM

They play with "OIL" black gold.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Blackyori June 28 2014 at 10:44 PM

Sure they can make an exception for fasting but not killing kids. Interesting religion. Then again all religion is pointless.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
4 replies
lgvxl42 June 28 2014 at 10:58 PM

Say! I hope they have a bunch of muslim's on that Belgium team?

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
karlfun2004 lgvxl42 June 29 2014 at 11:09 PM

they do, and you are in troble lol

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

Voting...

More From Our Partners