How players observe Ramadan in the Premier League

22 Mar 2023
DOucoure, Onana, Gueye line up for Everton

Everton's Abdoulaye Doucoure discusses the importance of his religion and how to play while fasting

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Ramadan will be observed by Muslims around the world from 22 March 2023, including many players in the Premier League.

In 2021, an agreement was put in place to allow Muslim players to break their fast during a Premier League match.

In the meeting between Leicester City and Crystal Palace on 26 April 2021, the match was paused at a goal-kick around the half-hour mark to allow Leicester’s Wesley Fofana and Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate to replenish themselves with liquids and energy gels.

As in previous years, this season the captains of clubs with Muslim players will be able to agree with Premier League match officials to find a natural pause in a fixture to allow those players or match officials to break their fast.

Clubs are also marking Ramadan with fans from their communities. 

Chelsea will be the first Premier League club to host an Open Iftar, or the breaking of the Ramadan fast by people of all faiths, at their stadium on Sunday 26 March. This has been organised by the Chelsea Foundation, working with the Ramadan Tent Project

'My religion is the most important thing'

As the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a month of prayer, reflection and community that will last until the celebration of Eid on the evening of Friday 21 April.

One of the five pillars of Islam is that during Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink between daylight hours to show their devotion to their religion and Allah.

For Premier League players this can be a challenge, especially with the intensity of training or matches in daylight hours. But Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure tells BBC Sport: "I always love Ramadan.

"Sometimes playing football has been hard because Ramadan has been in the summer and during pre-season. But I have always been lucky to practise Ramadan and there have never been problems with my physical condition - I am grateful for that.

"My religion is the most important thing in my life - I put my religion first, then comes my work. You can do both together and I am happy with that."

'We feel confident in England'

Doucoure is part of an all-Muslim midfield trio at Goodison Park, along with Idrissa Gueye and Amadou Onana, who not only play together but pray together.

"We feel very confident here, very accepted and everything is in place for Muslim people to enjoy,” Doucoure says. "In the Premier League you are free to do whatever suits you. They will never do anything against your faith and this is great.

"I fast every day, I don't miss any day. It has become normal and very easy for me.

"Training is still the same during Ramadan, but when we go (for away matches), we might need to eat later than the others, so the chef prepares food for us, making sure everything is in place as at home. We get halal food so there are no problems.”

Watch: Doucoure's interview about Ramadan

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