Players halted a Premier League match mid-game to allow a Muslim player to take a break and end his Ramadan fast

May 22, 2021
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Players in an English Premier League game between Leicester City and Crystal Palace on Monday night halted the match to allow a Muslim player observing Ramadan to break his fast.

Leicester defender Wesley Fofana is one of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world fasting as part of the month of Ramadan. His observance of Islamic customs means that he cannot eat or drink during daylight hours in the month, which runs from April 13 to May 12.

On Monday night, the sun set during the match between third-place Leicester and 13th-place Crystal Palace.

Before the match, both teams and the referee agreed that they would pause to allow Fofana to leave the field and get something to drink at a suitable point in the game.

That moment came in the 35th minute when the ball went out for a Crystal Palace goal kick. Rather than restart the game right away, Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita held on to the ball for about a minute.

During that time, Fofana ran off the pitch and was seen on the touchline drinking a bottle of something orange, most likely a sports drink.

The game then resumed, and Leicester went on to win. When Fofana broke his fast, his side was trailing 1-0, but they scored twice to take victory and move up to third place in the league, coming closer to securing a Champions League spot next season.

After the match, Fofana tweeted his thanks to everyone who agreed to pause the game to allow him to break his fast, saying that such gestures are “what makes football wonderful.”

As an elite soccer player, Fofana is usually subject to a strictly controlled diet, but his religion means that he must fast during daylight during Ramadan.

After the game, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was full of praise for Fofana’s exertions in recent weeks while fasting.

“I think it’s absolutely remarkable. If you think of his performance at the weekend in an FA Cup semifinal, when he hasn’t eaten all day, and then he had his first taste of food [later in the day].

“It was the same against West Brom, with the 8 p.m. kickoff, he’s not eaten or drank, and he can still perform to that level,” Rodgers said of the game, in which Fofana was substituted after 61 minutes.

“It was just one where I thought I could get him off, and he could get some food into him on the bench, and just protect him a little bit.

“I work with lots of players who have similar devotion to their faith, and I think, for a lot of the guys, it gives them strength.”

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