No strict Ramadan rules for Bundesliga footballers
By Michael Brehme Aug 2, 2011, 14:59 GMT
Berlin - Footballers are gearing up for Friday's start of the Bundesliga season which leaves Muslim players with the annual dilemma of how to act in the holy month of Ramadan.
France winger Franck Ribery, a Muslim since 2002, fasts during the week but not on Bayern Munich game days. SV Hamburg's Anis Ben Hatira, by contrast, plans to strictly follow Ramadan rules.
Fasting from daybreak until sunset August 1-29 is far from ideal preparation for athletes, and the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD) has issued guidelines to assist footballers in their decisions.
ZMD head Aimen Mazyek told the German Press Agency dpa on Tuesday that footballers can make up for the fasting in the off-season.
'We believe that strictly adhering to Ramadan without taking into account the physical activity in the job is a minority position which Islam doesn't call for in this way,' Mazyek said.
Mazyek named the issue difficult because players have to ask themselves whether sport can be worth more than their religious faith, and whether he can let down his employer and team-mates with the energy-sapping fasting.
'It is a question of conscience for many players and their families,' Mazyek said.
Second division club SSV Frankfuert caused a stir two years ago when three Muslim players received a warning for fasting during Ramadan without asking the club for permission.
The club got a lot of negative publicity and the issue has made others more cautious. In addition, the ZMD reached a first agreement with the German Football Federation DFB and the league (DFL) last year.
'There are no problems at the moment and joint agreements can be reached if they are necessary,' said a Mainz spokesman.
The Hanover press department simply said that the issue is a personal issue for players on which the club will not comment.
The players appear to at least lean towards the ZMD guidelines.
'I used to adhere to it (Ramadan) in the past. But it is no longer compatible with the principles of high-performance football,' said Bayer Leverkusen player Omer Toprak.
Team-mate Karim Bellarabi wants to make up for it later and Hertha Berlin's Tuney Torum gave up fasting during the season after almost fainting in an attempt to fast for the four weeks.
'That's when I decided not to do it anymore. But my respect has only grown for the players who fast,' Torum said.
Torum named Ben-Hatira as an example which means that the SV Hamburg player won't be able to eat and drink on Friday between 04:00 and 21:15 local time for the Bundesliga curtain-raiser at champions Borussia Dortmund - according to the city of Dortmund fasting times issued by the ZMD.
But if Ben Hatira is fielded as a starter in the game, the 20:30 kickoff will at least allow him to recharge his batteries during the half-time break.