The World Cup tackles Ramadan: Will the Holy Muslim month be teaming with fasting footballers?
Over the next four weeks, 32 nations will battle it out on football fields across Brazil during the FIFA 2014 World Cup football tournament - but only two teams will represent the Middle East.
Proud props to Algeria and Iran - (and mabruk for a winning outcome!) - but while MENA nations may not be crowding the roster, these international games are increasingly dependent on contributions from dozens of Muslim players, many of whom are challenged with integrating faith with career. Continue reading below »
This year, the last weeks of the World Cup coincide with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when the world’s one billion Muslims are expected to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex, from before sunrise until sundown. How will practicing Muslim athletes cope?
As with last year’s summer Olympics - also twinned with Ramadan - some athletes may choose to fast throughout the entire month, including days when they train or play matches. Others may seek to defer fasting days until after the competition in order to ensure peak fitness and maximum hydration.
Nick Worth, Medical Director at the Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira, has experience helping Muslim footballers get through Ramadan. “The players I advised usually had a plan before Ramadan started. They would speak to their spiritual advisors and make a decision,” he told Goal.com. “Are you going to expect a Muslim player to be performing as well? Maybe you don’t play them from the start or use them in a different way,” he added.
Not everyone is so flexible. London-based Imam Ajmal Masroor, a member of the Muslim Council of Britain, said, “Firemen have to fast, police officers have to fast, school teachers have to fast - this is part of the challenge we [Muslims] endure.”
See our sampling of elite Muslim footballers heading to Brazil. Not all claim adherence to the mandates of their faith, nor do they broadcast their personal strategies for coping with Holy Month requirements. Most agree it’s a personal choice - handled on a case-by-case basis.
Let the games begin, and watch these Muslim stars shine.