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21st Apr, 2023

Nujum reflect on Ramadan awareness in football

There are many ways to measure football’s increased awareness of Ramadan, but an unexpected example came up in one of the 60 workshops Nujum Sports delivered over the last two months, as founder Ebadur Rahman explains.

We have visited 40 different clubs where we have educated players, staff and coaches on best practice and how they can support Muslim players during this blessed month.

In a recent workshop delivered alongside Kick It Out, we were talking about how games can now be paused to allow players to break their fast, but how it can sometimes be met with a bad reaction from the crowd. Immediately, one fan stood up to admit he had booed a player, assuming it was because the player was timewasting.

He then said he wished he could meet the player to apologise as he didn't realise what was actually happening. It was a brave admission in front of others in the room, and shows the massive impact that education can have. 

Allowing players to break their fast during matches has been helped by our relationship with the referees’ body - the PGMOL – where we have offered guidance to over 200 match officials from the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two.

And the overall awareness of Ramadan has never been greater in football after an unprecedented number of football clubs opened their stadiums to hold an Iftar – the first meal that Muslims take after breaking their fast each evening.

This has included Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Fulham, Wolves, Watford and QPR to name a few. Wembley also hosted its own Iftar, and over in Europe, we saw the Dutch FA – the KNVB - and Feyenoord host public Iftars with players in attendance.

That followed a visit by Kick It Out and Nujum to the Netherlands to deliver sessions on Ramadan, racism and discrimination to KNVB staff last month.

With about 250 Muslim players in Premier League and English Football League first teams or academies, their welfare has never been so prominent and long may it continue.

But the awareness of Ramadan isn’t new amongst their team-mates. 

In September 2021, the then Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland tweeted “Alhamdulillah” quoting an Arabic word which means, all praise belongs to Allah.

The phrase has been made world-famous by one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and was a clear shout-out to the diverse backgrounds that made up Dortmund's squad at the time.

We try to support the players where we can because even though Ramadan is a month of celebration where many Muslims spend time with their families, the hectic life of footballer can make that very difficult, especially for players who have come from abroad.

That’s why we have delivered over 300 of our Ramadan packs to footballers, cricketers and rugby league players across the country and some parts of Europe. It is a gesture of friendship, appreciation, and admiration for all the wonderful work they are doing in their respective sports.

At Nujum Sports, our core aim has always been to help and support Muslim athletes to get the most they can from their sport, to excel without compromise and to develop into the great examples they want to be, both on and off the field.

To help athletes, clubs and sporting organisations better understand how Muslim athletes function we launched the Muslim Athlete Charter in 2021, focusing on 10 main areas.

One of those areas has been to support Muslim athletes during the month of fasting, but it is fantastic that organisations, clubs and fans are playing their part and increasing their understanding.  

May we continue to allow Muslim players to flourish and fulfil their potential. 

From all at Nujum Sports, Eid Mubarak.