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30 July, 2010

Muslim Group Issues Fatwa on Bundesliga

It's not as scary sounding as many of you think. A fatwa is an official ruling by Muslim religious officials, usually Ayatollahs, which gives an interpretation of their holy book for application in today's society. In this case, a fatwa was declared that if a Muslim player's sole income is derived from playing soccer (in the Bundesliga and lower levels), then he is exempt from Ramadan (month long fasting during the day as a means of prayer akin to Lent and Passover).

Last season, according to Yahoo Sports, three Muslim players were honoring their religion and fasting during the month long holiday of Ramadan but it severely affected their play. In their contracts, it was written that such a display, while not mentioning their religion, was a violation of their contract when not by express permission of their clubs.

After consulting with several religious groups, the German Central Council of Muslims allowed for exceptions to be made as "keeping the body healthy plays a leading role in Islam," according to Aiman Mazyek, the general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims.

I see this as a good move. In general, I'd hate to see great players never get a chance to play because of their religion. I'm sure many people remember Sandy Koufax. The guy was Jewish and a MLB World Series game came up during Passover so he couldn't play, so this is no different really. While teams could have gone the other way and adjusted the contracts to allow for the month off, perhaps by shifting/reducing the pay but spreading out the change over the course of the contract to be smaller payments, this allows players to keep up their skill, help their team and most likely will further more Muslims chances of making it in the Bundesliga.

By the way, if you are wondering why I have Frenchman Frank Ribery's pic up, he's Muslim. Never judge a player by their religion.

Photo: arbuz

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