Premier League returns with opportunity for Muslim players to break Ramadan fast
Muslim players like Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante will be offered a brief break to take on liquids and energy supplements.
Match officials in the Premier League have been asked to offer the opportunity for Muslim players observing Ramadan to break their fast.
For the first time ever the league has requested that players be given a brief break to take on liquids or energy supplements mid-game. During Ramadan many Muslims abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours so sunset is the first opportunity that they will have to do so.
The likes of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante are expected to observe Ramadan fasting from Wednesday 22 March to Friday 21 April.
Referees asked to establish pre-game whether a break is required
The practice of Ramadan fasting occurs during the daylight so as soon as the sun sets players will be able to take on liquids and food. When players have an evening match, sunset may occur during the game.
This year Sky Sports reports that referees have been asked by the Premier League to offer Muslim players a brief break in the game during a natural pause in play. For the next few weeks, officials will establish beforehand whether any players are observing Ramadan to agree an approximate time for the break to happen.
Informal Premier League fast break began in 2021
It is thought that the first example of an informal pause in play for Ramadan observers took place in 2021, when Leicester City played Crystal Palace. Before the game the two sides told referee Graham Scott that they had agreed for a pause in the Monday night game after half an hour.
Leicester’s Wesley Fofana and Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate were both observing Ramadan and needed an opportunity to break their fast. At the agreed time, Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guiata paused while taking a goal kick to allow the players to take on energy gels.
At the time, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to Fofana’s commitment to the team while observing Ramadan: “He’s finding an incredible strength to play continuously and train during Ramadan. He’s a special talent and a big player for us.”
Greater acknowledgement of Ramadan observance
Nujum Sports estimates that around 5% of all the players in the first teams and academies in the top four leagues of English football are Muslim. Throughout the month players and fans will be marking Ramadan in their own way and some clubs have sought to do the same.
Last Sunday Chelsea became the first Premier League club to host an Open Iftar; the breaking of the fast. The event was held at Stamford Bridge and organised in collaboration with the Ramadan Tent Project.
Earlier this month Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure told BBC Sport: “Sometimes playing football has been hard because Ramadan has been in the summer and during pre-season. But I have always been lucky to practise Ramadan and there have never been problems with my physical condition.”
“My religion is the most important thing in my life - I put my religion first, then comes my work. You can do both together and I am happy with that.”
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