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Referee halted play at sunset in German soccer match so Muslim player could break his Ramadan fast

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9 hours ago

Moussa Niakhate breaks his Ramadan fast during a Bundesliga match
Mainz’s clash with Augsburg was stopped so Moussa Niakhate could break his fast. 

A German Bundesliga match was paused last week so that a Muslim defender could break his Ramadan fast.

Mainz defender Moussa Niakhate — like millions of Muslims worldwide — has been observing Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting, prayer, and reflection, since it started at the beginning of April.

During Ramadan, those partaking must not eat or drink anything during daylight hours.

So when the sun set during Mainz’s clash against Augsburg at the WWK Arena on April 6, referee Matthias Jollenbeck halted proceedings so Niakhate ​could hydrate himself.

After play was paused in the 65th minute, Niakhate could be seen drinking out of two bottles. The French defender then ran over to Jollenbeck to thank him for the gesture before play resumed. 

It was the first time in Bundesliga history that a fixture has been paused to allow a player to break their Ramadan fast.

Jollenbeck wasn’t the only Bundesliga referee to pause a game last week to allow a Muslim player to break their fast.

In RB Leipzig’s victory over Hoffenheim on Sunday, referee Bastian Dankert also stopped play for a few minutes to allow Mohamed Siamakan to drink.

Lutz Michael Frohlich, who is the director of communications for the German Referee Committee​, gave a short statement on Monday saying that he had given his approval for officials to stop matches to allow players to break their fasts during Ramadan.

“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 players,” he said, according to Sportsmail.

The practice of pausing games to allow Muslim players to break their fast is becoming increasingly common across Europe’s elite soccer leagues, fueled in part by the growing number of stars from majority Islamic nations playing in Europe.

In the English Premier League last season, players took it upon themselves to halt a game between Leicester City and Crystal Palace so that Leicester’s Wesley Fofana, who is Muslim, could take on food and drink.

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