Diawara leaves France U19 squad over fasting ban – sources

Midfielder Mahamadou Diawara has left France‘s under-19 squad after learning that the French Football Federation (FFF) have installed new rules forbidding Muslim players from fasting during Ramadan when training with the national team, sources have told ESPN.

Diawara did not feel comfortable with the new rules, which are implemented from U16 level through to the senior team, and decided to leave and return home to his club side, Lyon, ESPN sources said. The FFF have confirmed Diawara’s return to his club and have called up Nantes‘ Dehmaine Tabibou Assoumani as his replacement.

FFF president Philippe Diallo said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Wednesday that he has put in place new rules regarding players fasting for Ramadan while on France duty, arguing that a “principle of neutrality” is written into the organisation’s founding statutes and that the measures “ensure that religion does not interfere with an athlete.”

The new FFF rules state that players called up by French national teams cannot fast during the period of Ramadan, instead insisting that players follow the usual rhythm of the teams’ organisations and operations.

Players who observe Ramadan, which began between March 10-11 and is expected to end around April 10, will not be able to fast while at the country’s Clairefontaine training base and will have to make up for the fasting days they miss at the end of the religious festival.

Every French national team head coach, from U16 boss Lionel Rouxel to senior head coach Didier Deschamps, told their players the new rules at the start of the international break.

“Some players are not happy with this decision,” an agent representing a number of players in a number of France’s youth and senior sides told ESPN. “They believe that their religion is not respected and that they are not respected either. Some don’t want to cause a fuss but Mahamadou was not happy with it so he left.”