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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Rugby League urged to introduce Ramadan breaks

In a world where diversity and inclusion are increasingly valued, the issue of accommodating religious practices within sports has come to the forefront. Rugby league, known for its rugged intensity and camaraderie, is now facing calls to adapt to the needs of its Muslim players during the holy month of Ramadan. As the sport evolves, advocates argue that introducing breaks for iftar (the meal breaking the fast at sunset) is not just about accommodating religious observance but also about sending a powerful message of inclusivity.

Meeting the Needs of Muslim Players

The absence of structured breaks for iftar during rugby league matches has posed challenges for Muslim players. In recent instances, athletes have resorted to breaking their fasts mid-game, highlighting the lack of provisions within the sport. This issue came to light when London Broncos duo Iliess Macani and Hakim Miloudi had to interrupt their fasts during a match due to the absence of a designated break.

Read More: US schools accommodate Muslim students during Ramadan

Drawing Parallels with Football

Football, another beloved sport, has set a precedent by allowing referees to pause matches for Muslim players to break their fasts. Last year, this measure was implemented in the Premier League, signaling a commitment to inclusivity and respect for diverse religious practices. However, rugby league has yet to follow suit, prompting calls for action from figures within the sport.

Call for Change

Ikram Butt, the first Muslim to represent England’s rugby league side, has emerged as a vocal advocate for introducing iftar breaks in rugby league matches. As chair of the British Asian Rugby Association, Butt emphasizes the importance of accommodating the needs of Muslim players. He argues that rugby league, despite its reputation for inclusivity, must adapt to ensure fairness and respect for religious diversity.

Significance of Inclusion

Beyond practical considerations, the introduction of iftar breaks carries symbolic significance. By embracing diversity and making small but meaningful gestures, rugby league can reaffirm its commitment to being an open and welcoming sport. Butt believes that such measures can inspire a new generation of athletes and enthusiasts from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging within the rugby league community.

Read More: I read Quran cover to cover in Ramadan: Actor Will Smith reveals

As calls for change grow louder, the Rugby Football League (RFL) faces a crucial decision. Introducing structured iftar breaks during matches would not only accommodate the needs of Muslim players but also reinforce the values of inclusion and respect within the sport. By taking proactive steps to address this issue, the RFL can demonstrate its commitment to embracing diversity and fostering a culture of acceptance.