Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar and is also known as one of the Five Pillars of Islam – in 2019 Ramadan starts on 6th May and ends on 4th June.
Ramadan lasts for one lunar month which is a maximum of 29 or 30 days and its start and ending dates are determined by the sighting of the moon. This means it comes around 11 days earlier each year and so starts on a different date each year.
During daylight hours adult Muslims and those who have reached puberty are required to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking. The obligation of fasting does not apply to those who are physically and mentally unwell, travelling or pregnant. If any individual has not been able to observe one, they may need to make up later or donate a set amount to the poor.
1. What football rules apply to Ramadan?
The FA rules make it clear that all faiths are observed and respected:
FA RULE B5 FOOTBALL & RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE
a. A Participant cannot be compelled to play football on bona fide occasions where religious observance precludes such activity, save where the Participant:
(i) has consented to do so on such occasions; or
(ii) is registered as a player under written contract, which shall be taken as consent to play on such occasions unless otherwise provided for in the contract.
b. Annually, when planning programmes, Competitions shall define and notify agreed dates of such occasions.
2. Ramadan and youth football
There is no set age when Muslims start fasting, it is generally post-puberty which can vary from between 8 and 16 years old. This will affect participation in youth football during Ramadan, especially in the older age groups. Best practice for leagues would be to ask any predominantly Muslim teams about their plans to fast and play. With youth football clubs, check with the parents of your Muslim players about availability; with open-age football clubs check with your players.
Fasting combined with extra prayers and a lack of sleep can leave people feeling a little more tired and dehydrated than normal. Many people following the Muslim faith will find it harder to play football and may not want to take part.
Those who are fasting do not expect you to stop eating or drinking, although it would be polite not to eat, drink or smoke in front of them. People may also enjoy sitting together and sharing food when they break the fast (Iftar) and will welcome non-Muslims to join in. To fast with Muslim friends, even for part of the day, is a good way of enhancing your understanding.
Members of the Muslim faith may practice their faith more during Ramadan and may wish to offer prayers during the day. This will normally be two to three times a day for a few minutes a time for which they will require a small private area. They may also attend extra prayers, known as ‘Tarawih’, during the night.
5. Guidance around fixtures
It is always important to take note of any important religious dates when planning fixtures. Ideally, if a team has a significant number of Muslim players it is best practice to try and avoid arranging fixtures during Ramadan.