- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BERLIN (AP) - A Muslim group and German soccer authorities said Wednesday they have determined that professional Muslim players may break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

The announcement followed a dispute involving second-division club FSV Frankfurt, which last year gave a formal warning to three of its players for fasting.

During Ramadan, devout Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining even from water. The club had a clause in contracts stating that wasn’t allowed without its express permission.

Germany’s Central Council of Muslims said it sought advice from Al-Azhar in Egypt, the pre-eminent theological institute of Sunni Islam, and elsewhere.

Al-Azhar ruled that if a player is obliged to perform under a contract that is his only source of income, if he has to play matches during Ramadan, and if fasting affects his performance, then he can break his fast, the council said.

The European Council for Fatwa and Research supported that ruling, it added.

“The Muslim professional can make good the fasting days in times when there are no matches, and so continue to pay God and the holy month of Ramadan honor and respect,” Aiman Mazyek, the general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims, said in a statement.

He noted that “keeping the body healthy plays a leading role in Islam.”

“We very much welcome it that an arrangement has now been found that allows players to carry out professionally their work in high-performance sport and in doing so live their faith to the full,” FSV Frankfurt manager Bernd Riesig said.