“He’s [Demba Ba] had a slow start here because of mainly Ramadan in my view”.
Ever since then, especially since the arrival of fellow Muslim Papiss Cisse, Ramadan has been added to the list of things we have to apparently worry about – alongside the African Cup of Nations and every transfer window…plus the 3 or 4 months leading up to them!
I then had a thought, it isn’t like Ramadan is some new invention, whereas for Newcastle United and its fans it has been a steep learning curve.
What about all of these players elsewhere who also happen to be fasting Muslims, especially in countries like Turkey where it is likely most of the players will be in that position, or what about the Olympics which are taking place this year slap bang in the middle of Ramadan?
A quick scout on the internet suggested that more than likely we’ve all got a bit carried away with a subject, when perhaps it was more to do with a manager such as Alan Pardew helping a player to settle into his new club.
A German website last year looked at how they’d considered the problem in that country and found a solution where professional footballers can manage to observe Ramadan but at different times which allows them to carry out their duties to the clubs also;
‘The Central Council of Muslims said it was advising professional football players in Germany that they need not fast during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan ahead of the regular season resuming Friday.
“The professional player can make up the fasting days during periods when there is no match and in that way show his respect for God and the holy month of Ramadan,” council president Aiman Mazyek said in a statement.
A dispute over the issue in Germany began when the second-division team FSV Frankfurt gave three Muslim players an official warning in October 2009 for fasting during Ramadan and failing to inform their managers.
The German Football Federation (DFB) reached an agreement with Muslim leaders on fasting in 2010, allowing players to respect one of the five pillars of Islam while fulfilling their professional obligations’.
While back in 2009, then Sevilla striker, Freddie Kanoute, believed that the observance of Ramadan actually helped him to play better!
‘Sevilla’s Freddie Kanoute (ex-Tottenham) believes it is possible for a modern footballer to remain in peak physical condition during the holy month.
The likes of Kanoute, along with Real Madrid’s Mahamadou Diarra, Lassana Diarra, and Karim Benzema, are the talk of football world as doctors work around the clock to formulate a routine in order to keep them hydrated during the fasting process.
And as Spanish tabloids splash headlines about the fasting month and debates rage about whether players should even be allowed to fast and play during Ramadan – Kanoute insists he just wants to get on with it.
“I try to respect my faith and follow it as best I can,” Kanoute told Goal.com.
“There are many Muslim footballers who people just do not know about in England in Spain, France and in many other leagues too. But having faith and practicing Ramadan is not something they wish to tell the world about.
“Personally, having faith helps my football and football helps me to be healthy and strengthens me. There is no conflict because people who know about Islam, they know that fasting empowers and does not weaken the Muslim”.’
Even if Ramadan did indeed impair Demba Ba’s contribution early doors last season, I dare bet that in between Alan Pardew will have taken the very best possible advice on how to help look after his talented strike duo and indeed possibly Hatem Ben Arfa. The truth is that we don’t even know exactly how each of these players observes Ramadan, if indeed they all do.
Sorry to spoil a good story but if Newcastle United don’t start the season firing on all cylinders then I think it will have more to do with with a congested opening period of matches and the quality we’ll be facing in our opening matches, plus possibly not sufficiently strengthening the squad.