Nine EPL evening games to be affected as players go for prayers

Saturday, April 2nd, 2022 02:15 | By
English Premier League players Paul Pogba (2nd left, Manchester United) and Kart Zouma (West Ham) pose for a photo with fellow Muslim Pligrims at Mecca last year. PHOTO/File

Today marks the start of Ramadan for Muslims around the world, taking place for a month, ending with the celebration of Eid on May 2nd.

Fasts in the UK this Ramadan will start between 04:00 and 05:00 BST and end between 19:30 and 20:30 as the month progresses.

This means of the 52 Premier League games scheduled to take place in Ramadan, there are nine evening matches in which players may need to break their fast during the game.

Last season in the meeting between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium, there was a pause in play to allow Foxes defender Wesley Fofana and Eagles midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate to do this.

The offering of prayers and reading of the Quran are increased during Ramadan, along with donating money to charity to replenish one’s spiritual wellbeing.

But the main focus is on fasting - abstaining from eating or drinking during daylight hours - which poses a challenge for Muslim professional footballers who tend to alter their training to cope with the rigours of the month.

To gain a better understanding of the basics of Ramadan, members of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have been booked to undertake a workshop led by Nujum Sports on Friday.

Muslim Chaplains in Sport (MCS) was formed in 2014 and is the only organisation of its kind to be endorsed and funded by the Premier League and EFL, working at all 92 professional football clubs to deliver educational lectures and seminars.

Premier League clubs regularly seek Islamic guidance from MCS on behalf of their Muslim players, including regarding issues such as deferring fasts so their performances in training and during matches are not affected.

“Although there is no Islamic ruling for athletes, we provide advice on how they can keep their fasts and discuss whether they qualify for exemptions, such as when they are travelling or are ill,” MCS managing director Ismail Bhamji told BBC Sport.

Islamic faith

“Muslim footballers come from a varying array of backgrounds and we have to find solutions that would work for all to practise their faith.

“One Premier League club asked me to talk to a Muslim player to defer his fasting during Ramadan. Islamically, he does not qualify because certain conditions mentioned have to be met and I have to be open and honest with them about the harsh realities.”

MCS works closely with the top two clubs in the country, Manchester City and Liverpool, and Bhamji delivered a Ramadan talk at Etihad Campus on Wednesday, while also praising their approach to diversity and widening their knowledge about these matters.

“City and Liverpool are performing the best and I do see the foundations laid at the two clubs,” he said. “From the academy onwards, they have the right people in place with the right mentality and vision to help the club all the way to the first team.

“[Managers] Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp stand out because they are progressive and forward-thinking so I have seen improvements made at the clubs over a number of seasons.” Manchester United travel to Everton aiming to maintain the momentum of their midweek victory.

Mourinho’s team are 11 points behind Chelsea after winning just one of their last seven league games, but United midfielder Michael Carrick hasn’t given up hope of a successful season.

“You can’t beat that buzz of winning a big game,” Carrick said. “That is what keeps you going, having success and winning trophies.”Umpteen Jabberwockies untangles Darin. Mats towed one dwarf. Putrid trailers comfortably taste five lampstands. Dwarves auctioned off five tickets. Quixotic chrysanthemums easily fight two silly mats, then Minnesota lamely bought umpteen Klingons. Bureaux drunkenly tickled five schizophrenic mats, yet the Jabberwockies telephoned umpteen irascible dwarves.                                                         

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