‘I call this religious discrimination’ – Red Star manager Habib Beye tears into the French FA’s Ramadan fasting framework

The French FA has recently implemented a ‘general framework’ related to Ramadan fasting during France’s national team gatherings. It means that training sessions, team meals, or games will not be rescheduled to accommodate the potential requirements of fasting players. The rigidity of the policy has attracted criticism from France and abroad. Nevertheless, the vast majority of Muslim France players across all age groups and levels have adhered to the new guidance, although some of them are understood to have begrudgingly accepted to reschedule their fasting.

After watching his side drawing 1-1 against Nancy in the third tier, Red Star manager Habib Beye has voiced his anger at the French FA, accusing it of organizing a ‘religious discrimination’. “My view is that I truly respect my players’ faith of any kind“, Beye said in his post-game press conference transcribed by L’Equipe. I also have players practicing Lent. One only sees the downsides but I only see the benefits. It creates cohesion, discussions, solidarity that people may not see on a football pitch.”

‘We are divided when we should unite’

It is therefore no surprise to hear Beye, whose Red Star team is leading the third-tier National 1 and heading towards a Ligue 2 promotion, rips into the French FA for the scrutiny solely imposed on Muslim players. “I call it religious discrimination. If we do it on one religion, we must do it on all religions, and that is not the case today. We are divided when we should unite around this logic of religion and sharing.”

Beye, who played for Newcastle United and Aston Villa during his professional career, has taken his Red Star side as an example to argue with the French FA’s stance. According to Beye, 19 out of the 26 players in his team were fasting the day they took on Nancy. “What bothers me is to think that players are not performing well because they are doing Ramadan. I have 14 players doing Ramadan, six were on the field. They fasted and broke their fast at 7:10 p.m., the game being held at 7:30 p.m. Did you see Walid’s game (Bouabdeli, who scored Red Star’s goal)? This gives you the answer to the puzzle that everyone is exposing today.”

GFFN | Bastien Cheval

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