Ramadan: How Can Your Club Support Players Observing?
What is Ramadan? When is it?
Ramadan 2023 in the United Kingdom is due to begin in the evening of Wednesday 22nd March and end in the evening of Friday 21st April, with Eid al-Fitr (roughly translated to ‘Festival of Breaking Fast’) which is due to be on Saturday 22nd April.
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar, and Muslims believe it was during this month that God revealed the first verses of the Quran, Islam’s sacred text, to Mohammad, on a night known as “The Night of Power”. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and means that during daylight hours, Adult Muslims and those who have reached puberty are required to abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking.
The obligation of fasting does not apply to those who are physically and mentally unwell, travelling, or pregnant.
How does Ramadan impact Football?
No-one can be compelled to play in a religious holiday unless they’ve consented or are a professional player under contract. For grassroots football, the FA Rule B5 on Football & Religious Observance means that any fixtures that fall within Ramadan can be played either after sunset or delayed until after Eid al-Fitr.
It’s important to consider that Muslim players, referees, and coaches may not wish to take part in football during the Holy Month of Ramadan. However, many individuals may wish to maintain their involvement and, in this case, it’s important that we’re all able to support their involvement as best we can.
Different Muslims will have different interpretations and observance of Islam and therefore it is always advisable to consult in advance with anyone affected.
There is no set age when Muslims start fasting. It is generally post-puberty but can vary from between 8 and 16 years old. This will affect Muslim participation in youth football during Ramadan, especially in older age groups. Best practice for leagues and clubs would be to consult with Muslim players and teams about their plans to fast and play.
2021 was the first year in history that the Premier League actively encouraged and adopted breaks in play to allow Muslim players to break their fast after the sun had set – in accordance with Ramadan.
How To Support Those Observing Ramadan
• Acknowledge those that will be observing Ramadan
• Wish Muslims well by saying “Ramadan Mubarak” (“Have a blessed Ramadan”)
• Try not to eat or drink in front of a Muslim that is fasting (if possible)
• Consider the challenges that come with fasting; e.g. Muslim players may be more prone to dehydration and fatigue
• If a session or match is out of fast times, consider extra breaks for players to eat and drink
• Be courteous around prayer times
• Be open minded to the traditions and practices of Ramadan – especially if it’s new to you!
Lincolnshire FA’s Football Development Officer for Disability & Inclusion, Jordan Mason, says: “Ramadan is an incredibly important and special time for Muslims across the world, and that’s no different here in Lincolnshire. With over 1% of Lincolnshire identifying as Muslim, or just over 11,500 people as per the 2021 Census, it’s more important than ever that we do what we can to make sure the football is an educated, welcoming, and inclusive space for everyone.”
For more information, feel free to contact Jordan.Mason@lincolnshirefa.com or call 01522 596580.
Alternatively, click here to find more detailed information on Ramadan and how best to support players observing Ramadan.