The EPL has called on all referees in the league to discuss suspending evening matches during Ramadan, writes Sky Sports. So, the EPL may suspend matches to accommodate Ramadan, suspending evening fixtures for Muslim players having their religious meal.
Premier League referees and captains will deliberate over whether to suspend evening EPL matches to conserve fasting players’ health, energy.
EPL rules have previously allowed for a pause in a game if both team captains agree before the game to do so.
On Monday, the Leicester vs Crystal Palace match was suspended by referee Graeme Scott. This was so that Wesley Fofana and Cheikhou Kouyate, both fasting, could have an energy drink at an appropriate time.
EPL May Suspend Matches to Accommodate Ramadan
Now, the EPL wants to address the issue of Muslims taking food and water during Ramadan more proactively.
The league also wants to encourage discourse around religious fasting. It should be a standard topic of discussion before the game, as taking a knee has become.
Since the Premier league restarted last year, players kneel in silence before starting a match. They do so to symbolize their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and total intolerance toward racism and discrimination.
So now, the Premier League will ask all referees in charge of night games during Ramadan to discuss the subject.
The referees should address any measures that they can take to oblige players’ fasting in their pre-match captains’ meeting.
Referees and captains can decide before kick-off if night games may be paused to allow Muslim players to break their fast at the appropriate times.
A History of Footballers Juggling Ramadan and Professional Duties
Many Muslim footballers have achieved the impossible feat of upholding Ramadan fasting while playing professionally in peak football season.
During Ramadan, no food or liquid is consumed between dawn and sunset, which may present extreme complications for professional athletes.
The challenges of fasting all day are multiplied ten-fold when one is deprived of the nutrition absolutely required by athletes.
According to studies, Ramadan reduced some footballers’ potential, and their performance took over 2 weeks after fasting ended to recover.
Nearly 70% of Algerian players in a study thought that their training and performance were adversely affected during the fast.
Another study, however, this time consisting of Tunisian soccer players, showed different findings.
The study determined that when training load was maintained, sprint performance was better during Ramadan in comparison with before Ramadan.
Also, athletes may employ physical and emotional coping mechanisms, and the spiritual period may offer them more clarity in play.
Multiple extensive studies commissioned by FIFA also concluded that if Ramadan is followed appropriately, there’s nothing to worry about. There will be no reduction in the physical performances of players and no danger to their well-being.
Mo Salah, Karim Benzema, Mesut Ozil, and Sadio Mane, are some of the many footballers who follow Ramadan.
However, some Muslim players chose to not practice Ramadan practice, and this does not take away from their faith, either.
In the Context of COVID
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought fasting football players further complications.
There is a rise in inactivity as well as a change in their diet due to staying isolated at home.
Such isolation may interrupt players’ exercise and nutritional plans, that they calculate exactly to sustain themselves through Ramadan fasting.
Moreover, playing in strict bio-bubbles may lead to interruptions, restrictions, or disruptions in the daily time-sensitive practices of Ramadan.