| GEO Sports|
Iranian footballer sacked for failing to observe fasting
| Updated at: 1106 PST, Tuesday, August 17, 2010|
TEHRAN: As much focus is given to the dietary requirements of a modern day elite athlete as is to the actual skill level.
So the holy month of Ramadan, with its compulsion to fast from dawn until dusk, can wreak havoc with the training programme of Muslim sportsmen and woman.
In England, certainly, coaches would endeavor to bypass the rules to ensure optimum output from their athletes.
Elsewhere, the very thought of breaking with tradition is met with severe punishment.
So it was on Sunday that an Iranian football team sacked their star midfielder Ali Karimi for failing to fast.
A statement on Steel Azin FC's official website said: 'The club has been forced to sack one of its players, Ali Karimi, for being disobedient and not fasting during Ramadan.'
It continued: '[Ali Karimi] insulted officials of the [Iranian] football federation and the Tehran team's supervisor who confronted him on the issue'.
Karimi, dubbed the 'Maradona of Asia', is the second most capped player in the Iran's history and was named that Asian Player of the Year in 2004
The issue of fasting, which is intended to enrich the soul of the Muslim people through self-discipline and sacrifice, has reared its head in football before.
Then Inter Milan manager Jose Mourinho blamed a player's fasting on his lack of energy during a match and substituted him after just half an hour. Mourinho later said Sulley Muntari should not have been fasting.
In Spain, former Tottenham player Freddie Kanoute is working with is new team Sevilla to devise a suitable nutritional plan to help him cope in the Mediterranean heat during Ramadan.
An agreement is in place in Germany, where Karimi played for two years, after a dispute last year between a team and three of its players. Authorities ruled in favour of the club that failing to eat would affect performance and therefore income.
Ramadan started in Iran on Thursday and under national laws all Muslims are required to observe the holy month. Those who do not fast, including non-Muslims, are expected to refrain from eating or drinking in public.
The issue is likely to cause problems during the Olympics in London in two years time as the Games fall during the holy month. London are expecting as many as 3,000 Muslim athletes to compete.