Nantes manager Antoine Kombouaré decided to drop Jaouen Hadjam from his squad on Sunday after the player refused to break his Ramadan fast on match day.
Despite the importance of the game against Stade de Reims, Algerian left-back Hadjam was seen to be left out of the FC Nantes squad, despite starting eight of the club’s last nine league games, The Score reported.
The game ended with a humiliating 3-0 defeat for Nantes.
Kombouare, who took the decision, said Muslim players who observe the fast during the holy month of Ramadan receive support from the club. Yet, he doesn’t allow them to fast on match day.
“In the week, there are no worries for those who fast, I’m ready to support them,” Kombouare said.
“But on match day, you don’t have to fast. It’s very intense, you have to be ready. And those who fast aren’t in the group. I don’t want them to injure themselves,” he added.
Nantes has six players this year observing Ramadan. Twenty-year-old Hadjam, who arrived in January from Paris FC, is the only one to also observe it on match days.
“It’s his choice, I respect it,” Kombouare said.
Unlike England’s Premier League which allows it, 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 last week.
The French Football Federation (FFF) has stated that it will not pause matches during the holy month, which could take a minute or less, as it could impact the integrity of the league.
Both the FFF and the Nantes coach decisions were criticized on social media.
‼️ Ligue 1 also took the decision to NOT allow players to break Ramadan fast mid-game.
Lucas Digne said on Instagram: “In 2023 we can stop a match for 20 min for referee decisions, but not 1 min to drink water.” pic.twitter.com/v61A9VMPeG
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) April 2, 2023
If this is true then that coach should be sanctioned. Ffs respect people’s religion
— Roadman! (@shegziii) April 2, 2023
Good thing he removed that fasting player, otherwise they might’ve actually lost today’s game 😮💨
Oh wait… pic.twitter.com/uboc3Ys6Ry
— Mehhhssi 🐐 (@Mehhhssi) April 2, 2023
📚 Read Also: How Muslim Athletes Compete in Ramadan
The decision has also sparked controversy and criticism from some Muslim groups in France.
On the other hand, the English Premier League was praised after announcing that players would be permitted to break their fast mid-match during the Muslim fasting month.