Bundesliga players exempt from fasting

Central Council for Muslim's in Germany advises players that do not need to fast during Ramadan.

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Germany's Central Council of Muslims said it was advising Islamic professional football players that they need not fast during Ramadan, ahead of the regular season resuming tomorrow.

"The professional player can make up the fasting days during periods when there is no match and in that way show his respect for God and the Holy Month of Ramadan," Aiman Mazyek, the council president, said in a statement.

Several Bundesliga players are Muslim, including Bayern Munich's French international, Franck Ribery.

A dispute over the issue in Germany began when the second-division team, FSV Frankfurt, gave three Muslim players an official warning in October 2009 for fasting during Ramadan and failing to tell their managers.

The German Football Federation reached an agreement with Muslim leaders on fasting in 2010 allowing players to respect one of the five pillars of Islam while fulfilling their professional obligations.

The council had initiated talks with the country's professional football associations last year and sought the advice of Islamic scholars. The Al-Azhar University in Cairo concluded an exception to the fasting rules could be made for professional players so their performance would not be compromised.

In Italy, Serie A footballers have hinted they could go on strike this month after a dispute over players' rights resurfaced.

The Italian Players' Union (AIC) said the league has not signed an agreement reached with the players last year after intense negotiations, during which strikes were twice narrowly averted.

"The collective contract must be signed and it needs to be done before the start of the championship," said Damiano Tommasi, the head of the AIC, in a television interview. "It's difficult for the players to not go on to the pitch, but it's necessary to have this in black and white.