The Premier League, Leicester and Crystal Palace have been praised for pausing mid-match to allow Wesley Fofana to break his Ramadan fast – thought to be a first in the division’s history.
The Monday night fixture was briefly stopped to allow the Foxes defender to take a drink, something the 20-year-old Frenchman thanked all parties for in a Twitter message the following day.
“Just wanted to thank the @premierleague as well as @CPFC, @vguaita13 all the Foxes for allowing me to break my fast tonight in the middle of the game,” he wrote.
“That’s what makes football wonderful.”
During the month of Ramadan, which runs from April 12 to May 12 this year, fasting Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours.
In an unusual gesture, both sides stopped after the sun went down to allow for the breaking of the fast.
Fofana had been substituted during last week’s game with West Brom to allow him to rest and take on food, with manager Brendan Rodgers describing the defender’s performances as “remarkable” considering the circumstances.
Monday’s move won praise from the Muslim community, with Ismail Bhamji – managing director and founder of Muslim Chaplains in Sport (MCS) – one of those who was impressed.
“It’s not something the Premier League had to do,” Bhamji, 36, told the PA news agency.
“By doing this they have set a very good precedent in sending a message of what the Premier League is actually doing in facilitating and accommodating for players of different faiths.
“It’s a very kind, lovely message from the Premier League to allow this to happen, and the clubs which were involved as well.
“They’ve gone out of their way to show their support for the Muslim player and I’m hopeful they will do this for other players if they request this as well.”
The MCS works with Premier League and EFL clubs to educate on a number of topics, such as Ramadan, cultural awareness and prayer guidance.
Bhamji said to his knowledge this was the first time the breaking of the fast had happened in professional football in England.
He added that it could spark increased interest from young Muslim footballers, and said he had contacted the Premier League to let it know what an “amazing thing” it had done.
“This will continue now for many years, 25 years or more, where the fasting will come into the footballing season,” he said.
“So it’s something the Premier League will have to look into and maybe have some policy in place.
“I would say that this will offer a firm assurance to Muslim football players and to parents of the young players who are aspiring to become football players, that their spiritual needs, their faith needs, will be looked after at the Premier League, and EFL clubs as well.
“We could possibly see, just by this one small action, an increase of interest for sure, and maybe someone breaking into a good Premier League team, and maybe into the English national team – you never know.
“I’ve actually contacted my contact at the Premier League to let him know that it’s an amazing thing that they’ve done.”