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A soccer game was paused so a Muslim player could break his fast for Ramadan

Referee Matthias Jöllenbeck paused a Bundesliga match between Mainz and Augsburg so Muslim soccer player Moussa Niakhaté could break his Ramadan fast.

A soccer game was paused so a Muslim player could break his fast for Ramadan
Image Source: 1. FSV Mainz 05 v 1. FC Köln - Bundesliga. MAINZ, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 21. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

A Bundesliga match in Germany was paused earlier this month so a Muslim soccer player could break his Ramadan fast. This is the first time in history that the European country's professional association soccer league has ever halted a match for this purpose. For just under a month now, Mainz defender Moussa Niakhaté has been fasting every single day for the holy month of Ramadan, a period of fasting, prayer, reflection and community for Muslims across the world. Muslims begin their fast at the break of dawn and end their fast when the sun sets. So, when the sun set during Mainz's clash against Augsburg at the WWK Arena on April 6, referee Matthias Jöllenbeck halted the soccer game so Niakhaté ​could hydrate himself, INSIDER reports.


The game was paused in its 65th minute and Niakhaté could be seen drinking out of two bottles. The French defender then ran over to Jöllenbeck so he could thank the referee for his kind gesture before the game resumed. However, Jöllenbeck was not the only referee to pause a game so a Muslim soccer player could break his fast. In RB Leipzig's victory over Hoffenheim on Sunday, shortly after the match between Mainz and Augsburg, referee Bastian Dankert did the same.


Like Jöllenbeck, he paused the game for a few minutes so he could allow Mohamed Simakan, another Muslim player, to break his fast as well. On Monday, Lutz Michael Fröhlich, the director of communications for the German Referee Committee, announced that he had granted prior approval to officials so they could stop matches for the purpose of allowing Muslim players to break their fasts during Ramadan. He said, "There is no general instruction in this regard, but of course, we support our referees allowing such drinking breaks during Ramadan at the request of the player."


Increasingly, the practice of stopping matches at sunset to allow Muslim soccer players a few moments to break their fasts is becoming common across elite soccer leagues in Europe. This is fueled in part by the rising number of soccer players from majority Islamic nations playing in Europe. For example, during the last season of the English Premier League, the players took it upon themselves to pause a match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace so that the Leicester City's Wesley Fofana, who is Muslim, could break his fast with food and drink. Hopefully, this is a trend we will soon see across sports in all parts of the globe.

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