France refuses to pause matches to allow Muslim players to break their Ramadan fast

The French Football Federation has drawn criticism for its disregard for the moral requirements and physical health of Muslim players.

Because of the idea of “football neutrality at the areas of practice,” the French Football Federation (FFF), in contrast to English football leagues, has refused to pause nighttime matches during the holy month of Ramadan to allow Muslim players to break their fast.

FFF’s Federal Committee of Referees (CFA) forbade any “interruptions” to a game to allow Muslim footballers to break their fast, stating that “these interruptions do not respect the norms of the Statutes of the FFF” in an email issued to French football officials.

The email emphasized that the FFF forbids any “display of a political, ideological, religious, or trade union” affiliation during its competitions and that the federation and its bodies “defend the fundamental values of the French Republic and must implement means to prevent any discrimination or infringement of a person’s dignity due to their… political and religious beliefs.”

The email continued, “A football pitch, a stadium, a gymnasium, are not venues of political or religious expression; they are neutral spaces where the ideals of sport, including equality, fraternity, impartiality, and learning to respect the referee, oneself, and others, must prevail.

Failure to follow these instructions could result in “disciplinary and/or criminal procedures,” the federation warned. The email’s final sentence urged all football authorities to make sure these rules are followed.

The FFF has come under heavy fire for its choice, with many using social media to protest the federation’s disregard for the moral commitments and physical health of Muslim athletes.

“The French Football Federation has once again demonstrated its incapacity. There was plenty of room to perform the bare minimum, but other countries have serious plans in place to respect religious people, according to a Twitter commentator.

Regarding football games played during the holy month of Ramadan, many compared the ways that France and England handled the situation differently. Both the Premier League and the English Football League Championship (EFL) encouraged referees to halt games earlier this month to allow Muslim players to break their fast.

According to Sky Sports News, refereeing bodies have now given match officials instructions to permit a natural break in play so that players can break their fast by consuming beverages, energy gels, or supplements.

The French national team had advised its Muslim players to delay fasting until the conclusion of Les Bleus’ Ramadan matches before the FFF decided not to interrupt games for Muslims to break their fast.

According to French sports publication L’Equipe, “the French staff will not force anyone not to practice their religion, but Les Bleus’ staff has still made advice in the hope that the players may choose to postpone fasting for five days during the team’s Ramadan games.

Muslims in particular expressed their displeasure with the French team’s “recommendations,” calling them absurd and inappropriate.

Shame on the FFF, Ramadan doesn’t function like that, a Twitter user wrote.

Adult Muslims who are physically capable must fast from dark till morning during Ramadan. Muslims are spared from fasting during the holy month for a variety of reasons, including age (children and the elderly) and special situations like illness and long-distance travel.

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