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Report: French referees told not to pause matches during Ramadan


France's football federation has told referees they must not pause matches to allow Muslim players to break their fast during Ramadan, media reports said Friday.

Unlike England's Premier League which allows it, the practice does not comply with the French Football Federation's statutes, several media reported the body saying in an email sent to referees Thursday.

It said it had been brought to the federation's attention that matches were being interrupted following the breaking of the Ramadan fast.

"The idea is that there is a time for everything. A time to do sport, a time to practise one's religion," Eric Borghini, head of the federal referee commission at the Federation, told AFP.

He said that the federation had learned that "a certain number of amateur-level meetings have been stopped to allow players observing the fast to hydrate".

This is not permitted in the regulations, he said, highlighting they included the strict respect of the principle of secularism in football.

English football has taken the reverse decision and will permit matches of the Premier League to pause during the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset. It is being observed this year from March 22.

Asked about the issue, Nice coach Didier Digard said Friday that several Muslim players in the team observed Ramadan without any problems.

Although he said it would be good if France allowed the breaks, he added "nobody cares that they don't do it. Because we are not in a Muslim country. You have to accept the country you live in," he told reporters.

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