Muslim players at World Cup try to deal with Ramadan

Muslim players at World Cup try to deal with Ramadan
Germany's Mesut Ozil, center, shown going for a header with the U.S.'s Omar Gonzalez, decided against fasting during holy month of Ramadan this year because of the demands of the World Cup. (Matthias Schrader / Associated Press)

The holy month of Ramadan began Saturday night, which is forcing dozens of Muslim players still competing in the World Cup to decide whether to give up food and liquids during daylight hours, as their faith demands, or continue to train and play normally, as their sport demands.

Germany's Mesut Ozil made his decision last week, deciding against a fast.


"I am working and I am going to continue doing so. So I'm not going to do Ramadan," he said. "It's impossible for me to do it this year."

The majority of the Algerian team, however, said they will fast. Algeria meets Ozil's Germany in the round of 16 on Monday.

This is not the first time Ramadan has coincided with a major international competition, although it hasn't overlapped with the World Cup since 1986. Nevertheless, many players are experienced in balancing the demands of their sport and their faith, which is why French Coach Didier Deschamps is leaving it up to the players to decide what to do.

"It's a very sensitive and delicate subject. There's nothing for me to dictate," he told Agence France-Presse. "We respect everyone's religion. Today is not the first time we're discovering this situation. I am not in the least bit worried and everyone will adapt to the situation".

Hakim Chalabi, former team physician for French club Paris Saint-Germain, says that fasting can be risky, increasing the possibility of injury because of dehydration.

"The level of nutrition needs to change," he said. "The quality of food must also be modified in order to adapt to the exercise. Players must better hydrated. What's more, we advise them to take longer naps during the afternoon to recover some of what they've lost in sleep."

Luis Suarez explains incident

Uruguay's Luis Suarez denied biting an Italian opponent in a group-play game, an infraction that got him suspended for nine games.

"In no way it happened how you have described, as a bite or intent to bite," Suarez wrote to FIFA in a letter dated June 25.

The player's defense is in the sixth paragraph of FIFA's disciplinary committee ruling, which was seen by the Associated Press.

"After the impact … I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent," Suarez wrote. "At that moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth."

Franz Beckenbauer is cleared

FIFA, world soccer's governing body, has lifted the penalty it imposed on former German great Franz Beckenbauer after he agreed to meet with an investigator probing allegations of corruption ahead of votes that awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

This month, Beckenbauer, a former FIFA executive committee member, was banned from all soccer-related activities for 90 days after failing to cooperate in the probe.


The Associated Press contributed to this report