A Muslim leader in Italy last night launched a stinging attack on the Inter Milan coach for comments he made about Ghana’s Sulley Muntari who was observing Ramadan at the weekend.
Muslims around the world are fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which faithful followers abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours.
One of those followers is Inter’s Ghana midfielder Muntari, who Mourinho hauled off after just half an hour of Sunday’s 1-1 home draw against Bari due to the former Portsmouth player’s poor performance.
Afterwards, Mourinho suggested Muntari had played badly due to a lack of energy associated with his fast.
But Mohamed Nour Dachan, president of the Union of Islamic communities and organisations in Italy (UCOII), slammed the claims.
“I think Mourinho could do with talking a little less,” he told Sky Italia. “A practising (Muslim) player is not weakened because we know from the Institute of Sports Medicine that mental and psychological stability can give a sportsman an extra edge on the field.
“A player who is a believing Christian, Jew or Muslim is certainly calmer psychologically and that improves his performance.”
Mourinho was clearly irked with his player after the match claiming: “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.”
Mourinho even suggested Muntari would be dropped for this weekend’s crucial Milan derby due to his diminished condition, saying the club would try to work out a solution with its medical staff.
Muntari is not the only player in Italy to be faced with this problem, although many other Muslim footballers choose not to practise Ramadan. Siena striker Abdelkader Ghezzal, who scored in the 2-1 defeat at home to AC Milan at the weekend, revealed he simply cannot fast and play at the same time. “I observe the fast during my days off, when there are no games or training,” said the Algerian. “I’ve always observed Ramadan but I have had to change my habits for health reasons from the first year that I became a pro. “I was at Crotone (then in Serie C1 but now in Serie B) but after two weeks I felt ill and had to stop.”