The spotlight is upon the Muslim festival of Ramadan and the effect it may have upon Islamic footballers in this World Cup. It throws up an interesting question of the balance to be struck between physical and mental well-being in modern football.
Ramadan at odds with football?
One would think that faith would usually be seen as a beneficial complement to fitness. It seems unlikely that pious superstars would succumb to the potentially harmful vices on offer to young and affluent men.
Ramadan, as an act of faith, seems clearly to be at odds with a game that breeds its players like racehorses. Fitness coaches will be very uncomfortable about a practice that prevents players from consuming any food or liquid during the day, especially in the heat of Brazil.
Some stars not partaking
Bacary Sagna and Mesut Ozil have already announced that they will not be participating, seeing it as impossible to maintain at such a physically demanding time. However, some of the Algeria squad will be upholding the practice.
Their coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, has refused to name the partaking players. This is a sensible move, lest any unwanted attention or criticism be brought upon them for irreligiousity or physical irresponsibility.
Still, it would be intriguing to the viewer to see what effect Ramadan does have upon the players. Does the mental strength gained from such a practice trump the physical negativity? Ramadan brings into focus the question of what role psychology continues to play in a sport obsessed with physicality.
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