Of course, many of you will remember the fuss from last year when Ba had just joined the club, and the debate on how it affected his performances, and his goal scoring. Having written that, it did begin 11 days later in the year of 2011, and Eid Al-Fitr, which brings the end of the fasting, didn’t come until the end of last August, after several weeks of Premiership games had taken place. On the other side however, with the added burden of European competition to contend with, the demands on players will be higher than ever. Lee Ryder from the Evening Chronic stated in one of his pieces on Saturday the Demba had indeed started his fasting for this year’s Ramadan last Friday (January 20th). Whatever the dates in any given year though, there may be a solution to the problem in years when Ramadan fall within the Premiership calendar, which I will explore a little below.
Tracking back a little though, the same observance of the fast will almost certainly be true of the other Demba too, Papiss Demba Cisse, as they seem to be like peas in a pod. Though if it is true, it certainly didn’t stop Cisse scoring freely with Freiburg at the beginning of last season.
Being a keen student of Islam, and also after consulting with a devout Muslim friend, as well as a user of this site from K.S.A. (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) some time time ago, there should be an exception from fasting during the daylight hours of the Ramadan period in special cases for those involved in very physically demanding work, which, in the modern world, should surely include professional athletes like Ba and Cisse who are at the top of their profession?
Anyway, on this subject, here’s an VERY interesting and informative article from the Guardian on the very subject of how many practising Muslim athletes in the British Olympic team will not be fasting during the holy month (and the London Olympics). It’s called “Ramadan and the Olympics: to fast or not to fast?“
In this story, it raised the very interesting case of Team GB’s Muslim rower, Moe Sbihi, and possibly a solution to our own “Demba dilemma” which should be in keeping with both the spirit and practice of the Muslim faith.
The idea is that instead of Sbihi observing his fast during Ramadan, he instead will be undertaking to provide 60 meals a day for the poor for every day of fasting he misses, which is dare I say it, entirely in keeping with the spirit of Islamic practice and the teachings of the Holy Prophet himself. Indeed, it gets to the very core of what Ramadan, and Islamic charity is all about in the first place, and he only did it after consulting with senior Muslim scholars in Morocco, the home of his father. I’m also pretty sure that both Ba and Cisse could manage this on a Premiership footballer’s wages too, even under the Mike Ashley austerity regime!
As well as the Guardian piece linked above, there is also more on that decision in another very interesting Guardian piece entitled “London 2012 Olympics: Champions aren’t made easily, says Mohamed Sbihi.
To the two Dembas if you’re reading this, it’s certainly “food” for thought?
Since the time of writing this piece, I noticed that since 2010 in German football, Muslim players have been advised by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany that they may defer their fasting to times where there are no games. The chairman of the Council, Aiman A. Mazyek, said in a statement also issued this statement just before the commencement of the 2011-12 season (and Ramadan) last year:
“The professional player can make up the fasting days during periods when there is no match and in that way show his respect for God and the holy month of Ramadan.”
Mazyek issued this statement after a dispute at second-division team, FSV Frankfurt, gave three of their Muslim players an official warning in October 2009 for fasting during Ramadan and failing to inform their managers. The German Football Federation (DFB) subsequently reached an agreement with Muslim leaders in 2010 which allowed players to respect one of the five pillars of Islam at another time, enabling them to fulfill their professional obligations during the season.