Sunday, January 21st, 2018

Egypt will try to convince national team not to fast during Ramadan, football chief says

Egyptian Football Association (EFA) will try to convince its national team’s players not to fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan due to its participation in the 2018 World Cup, the body’s chief Abo Rida said in an interview published Wednesday.

Speaking to Russian news agency TASS, Rida said fasting during Ramadan was EFA’s “biggest problem.”

“If [players] refrain from eating, the chances of losing are increasing rapidly. During Ramadan the way of life changes completely: they do not sleep at night, they do not eat or drink during the day, how they can train when they completely change their physiological cycles,” Rida said.

The football official also noted that fasting in Russia would be much harder than in Egypt.

“Sunset [in Russia] is later, and therefore, they will be able to start the first meal only sometime near 9 p.m. And what kind of preparation would this be? Especially since we planned to come to the tournament nearly a week in advance, it means that the last week of fasting falls to the Russian conditions. So, we will do everything to convince them not to fast,” Rida added.

He also said Eid al-Fitr — the three-day feast marking the end of Ramadan — would be a disadvantage for the Egyptian team too as players will begin relaxing after a month of fasting.

“When in previous years we played during Ramadan, we always lost. We can support their spirit, but we cannot be responsible for their physical preparation,” Rida said.

Observant Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk for the entire month of Ramadan. Fasting in Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars — fundamental religious duties — of Islam. It is a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion.

Since the beginning and the end of Ramadan are determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, the holy Muslim month starts on a different date every year.

Ramadan 2018 is expected to start May 15 and will end June 14, the day FIFA World Cup 2018 kicks off in Russia.

Egypt, drawn to Group A, will compete against the hosts Russia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay at the group stage.

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