French football referees ordered not to pause matches for Ramadan fast

Editorial credit: charnsitr /

In an email sent to referees, the French Football Federation (FFF) has prohibited the interruption of matches to allow Muslim players to break their Ramadan fast.

The email reminded referees to uphold the “principle of neutrality” and the “values of the French Republic” during matches.

It said: “The interruption of matches following the breaking of the Ramadan fast has been brought to the attention of the Federation. These interruptions do not respect the provisions of the statutes of the… Federation and its decentralised bodies, as bodies charged with a public service mission delegated by the State, to defend the fundamental values of the French Republic and to implement the means to prevent any discrimination or attack on the dignity of a person notably because of… his political and religious convictions.”

The FFF reminded referees that football pitches and stadiums are not places of “political or religious expression,” but are rather places of “neutrality where the values of sport must take precedence.”

Anyone violating these provisions will be subject to disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings, the FFF warned, prohibiting during its competitions “any speech or display of a political, ideological, religious or union nature.”

The attitude of the French Football Federation contrasts with that of the Premier League which has put together special exceptions to make sure Muslim players are able to complete their Ramadan fasts.

The measures include games being paused to make sure players can break their fast during the proper times.

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Last year a report by advocacy group CAGE revealed the unprecedented crackdown on Islam and Muslims in France under the government of Emmanuel Macron.

The report said the crackdown amounts to “persecution” under international law, as well as institutionalised Islamophobia and repression.

CAGE says the pattern of behaviour exhibited by the French state towards Muslims is calculated to harass and humiliate Muslims, resulting in the intentional and severe deprivation of freedom of religion, of opinion, of association and right to property.

In 2021 the French parliament approved a law to strengthen oversight of mosques, schools and sports clubs.

The government says it was needed to safeguard France from “radical Islamists” and to promote respect for secularism and women’s rights. The law has been used to shut down multiple mosques and community groups.

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