Sunni scholars in Saudi Arabia and their Shiite counterparts in Iran may be at war over who is a Muslim, but there is one thing they agree on: soccer detracts from religious obligations. Iran, in the latest skirmish between soccer and Islam, is debating the propriety of playing a 2018 World Cup qualifier against South Korea on October 11, the day Shiites celebrate Tasua, the 9th day of the month of Moharram, one of the holiest days in the Shiite calendar on which the faithful commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
The Iranian debate erupted six years after Saudi clerics parked flatbed trucks in front of Internet cafés to persuade fans to break away from watching matches being played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa at prayer time. Imams rolled out red carpets to entice fans to pray.
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