Is it right to drop a fasting footballer?

Football coach Jose MourinhoFootball coach Jose Mourinho, ever the headline creator, has caused further outcry this week after he substituted Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari from his Inter Milan side in an Italian league game against Bari.

Taking a tired player from the field of play was hardly breaking news – or at least it wasn’t until Mourinho revealed the move had been prompted because the player’s perceived “low-energy levels” were as a result of fasting.

Muntari is a practising Muslim who, like many of the same faith around the world, is currently not eating during the hours of daylight to mark the Ramadan holy period.

A clearly irked Mourinho said at a post-match press conference: “Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan, perhaps with this heat it’s not good for him to be doing this (fasting).

Ramadan has not arrived at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match.”

Muslim leaders in Italy have criticized the opinions of the coach known as the “Special One” – but Mourinho did not rule out the possibility of dropping the player for the Milan derby, between arch rivals Inter Milan and AC Milan, this weekend for the same reason.

Story by Kofi Owusu Aduonum