The reports come after Muslim football players in the English Premier League were able to break their fast mid-game during the fasting month of Ramadan.
The France Football Federation (FFF) has come under fire after prohibiting Muslim footballers from ‘interrupting’ matches by breaking their fasts during the holy month of Ramadan, French media reported on Friday.
While the Premier League’s refereeing bodies will halt play to allow practicing players to break their fast during games, the FFF has emailed French referees to remind them that they are not permitted to pause games.
Eric Borghini, chair of the Federal Commission of Referees and member of the French Football Federation, said that such stoppage of football matches is against the league’s laws.
“Football does not take into account the political, religious, ideological or trade union considerations of its actors,” Borghini wrote in an email addressed to referees sourced by L’Equipe.
“This principle is imposed on everyone: instances – clubs – licensees – referees. It is up to all stakeholders to ensure that it is respected,” Borghini added in the leaked email.
With several Muslim players dominating the Les Bleus squad for years, the ruling, deemed Islamophobic by many, is bizarre as the country’s historic achievements have come at the feet of Karim Benzema, Zinedine Zidane, Franck Ribery, Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele, and N’Golo Kante.
Lucas DigneFrench, left-back for Premier League club Aston Villa, is one if not the only footballer that has voiced his opinion publically, expressing his disappointment.
Amid the ruling of the Premier League, Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure claimed the English federation was “the best league for Muslims to be in.”
“In the Premier League you are free to do whatever suits you, they will never do anything against your faith and this is great,” the midfielder voiced.
“I was born in France and worked there, but between France and England there is a big difference. English people are a great example. Sometimes you have to listen to the people and understand what the faith means to them. It is not a choice – it matters to us to protect our faith 100%.” Doucoure added.
“I always wanted to be in the Premier League and I want to stay much longer here. It is the best league for Muslims to be in.”
News of the French banning has sparked outrage across much of the world, with many pointing to ongoing Islamophobia by French authorities.
“Absurd ban. The FFF itself reassigns the players to a belief when 1 break of 2m per half is already allowed and there could simply be the possibility of taking eg. a cookie, for whatever reason. Secularism has nothing to do with it,” one user wrote on Twitter in response to the ruling.
“Nothing surprises me coming from France,” another user added in regards to the leaked emails.