It was truly heartwarming to see the world of professional soccer keeping their competitive agendas aside and showing religious tolerance.
A beautiful display of sportsmanship was witnessed on Monday night when Leicester City and Crystal Palace played against each other during an English Premier game. The match was halted mid-game, a rarity, to allow two Muslim players to observe Ramadan so they could break their fast. The month of Ramadan, which began on April 12 and will continue until May 12 this year, requires Muslims to fast during daylight hours and break it only after sundown. This moment arrived at the 35th minute of the match and Crystal Palace's goalkeeper Vicente Guaita held on to the ball for a minute instead of making the kick and restarting the game right away. This allowed Palace's midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Leicester's center-back Jonny Evans of Leicester City to celebrate after scoring their sides second goal with teammates
According to Insider, both teams and the referee Graham Scott had agreed to pause the game to let the players get something to drink. When Guaita held on to the ball, Fofana was seen running off the pitch and guzzling down a bottle of what appeared to a sports drink. After the game, Fofana thanked the opposing club for showing their support. Just wanted to thank the @premierleague as well as @CPFC, @vguaita13 all the Foxes for allowing me to break my fast tonight in the middle of the game. That's what makes football wonderful, he wrote on Twitter.
Just wanted to thank the @premierleague as well as @CPFC , @vguaita13 all the Foxes for allowing me to break my fast tonight in the middle of the game. That's what makes football wonderful 🙏🏾✊🏾#WF3 #PourEux pic.twitter.com/d56o8A8ZGo— LAWESTT (@Wesley_Fofanaa) April 26, 2021
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Muslim lunar calendar, which is considered the holiest time of the year. They believe that the first verses of the holy book Qu'ran were given to Prophet Mohammed during this time of the year making it auspicious. During this time, healthy adult Muslims fast from dawn till dusk and indulge in acts of worship like prayers, and charity throughout the month. They wake up early and eat a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, according to Aljazeera and break their fast with iftar. Fasting is supposedly one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of worship that Muslims believe gives them a chance to be closer to God, strengthen their resolve, and an opportunity to be more helpful towards those in need.
I know a country where if a referee did that, he would be an extremist islamist totalitarian trying to force a religion on people, i’m not willing to say the name of the country to not trigger my french friends, respect to the uk 🇬🇧 and the @premierleague ❤️— Othmane El Fadili (@FadiliOthmane) April 27, 2021
While the time of fasting can be difficult, it is more challenging for athletes who play at a professional level for an entire month without proper hydration and food. In a typical 90-minute game, soccer players can run to 9 miles and burn as much as 1500 to 2000 calories. "A study from Holland found that elite male soccer players expended about 3400 calories a day on average," per reports. Last week, Fofana was substituted during the second half of the game, in which Leicester defeated West Bromwich Albion by 3-0, at the 60-minute mark. It was done so he could rest a little and consume some food.
Even we the rest of the Muslim must thank and appreciate them for this.— Abdulhakeem danmusa (@AbdulhakeemAh19) April 27, 2021
Thank you premier league
Thank you Crystal palace and the rest, a big thank you
It is something that is believed to have happened for the first time in Premier League history. Noting the circumstances, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers described the incredibly talented defender’s performances as "remarkable," according to First Post. While fasting can make it quite challenging for players to perform their best on the field, Rodgers believes that observing this religious fasting gives the players more strength. "I’ve worked with lots of players with devotion to their faiths and for a lot of the guys it gives them strength," said Rodgers following the game. "He’s finding an incredible strength to play continuously and train during Ramadan. He’s a special talent and a big player for us." It's amazing to see the world of professional soccer keeping their competitive agendas aside and prioritizing things that matter to millions of people throughout the world.