“In a dressing-room, you do not look at someone and see colour, creed, sexuality or anything of that nature. You see a friend, a team-mate, someone who can help and someone who can help you” – Jurgen Klopp
As one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy adult Muslims. There is also a verse in the Quran that prescribes fasting for all Muslims who are mature and healthy enough to do so for the full day. According to religious beliefs, Muslims must not consume anything, including water and chewing gum, between dawn (Suhur) to dusk (Iftar) in order to cleanse the soul and mind.
UEFA Champions League
The UEFA Champions League initially termed as the European Cup before being changed to Champions League in 1992, is an annual football club tournament that first started in 1955 and is considered the most prestigious football tournament worldwide. Ever since its inception, only 22 football clubs have managed to win the Champions League till today. In essence, this competition is THE Holy Grail for many tops, top clubs and elite players.
During one of the press conferences in the run-up to the Champions League final, Liverpool’s German coach, Jurgen Klopp was asked about the prospect of his Muslim players, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane fasting during the game which clashed with Ramadan.
Liverpool’s gaffer eloquently answered that “I have no problem with my players fasting. I respect their religion they were always amazing whether they were fasting or not. There are days when Mane or Salah come late to the dressing room because they were praying. There are many things more important than football”
Most people know that to stay healthy, you need to drink water. Hydration is part of what helps your body function properly, and it helps you feel at your best. For elite footballers, dehydration occurs when fluid losses — whether from sweating, increased core temperatures, or even breathing — exceed fluid consumed through both food and beverage.
They lose fluids rapidly during a match, especially if the match has a lot at stake and is being played in hot or humid conditions. Conditions like that at a champions league final in Madrid where you can expect an average temperature of 21°C, which reaches an average high of 29°C in May.
Even in a state of mild dehydration, cells throughout the body — from the brain to muscles — cannot function properly. The blood begins to thicken slightly, making it more difficult for the heart to get oxygen-rich blood to those cells. In other words, a footballer’s performance would be severely affected and together with it, the team suffers as well.
Jurgen Klopp’s Tolerance With Muslim Players
Considering the fact that Klopp’s lost his past six cup finals – three in a row with Liverpool and three with his previous Borussia Dortmund, Klopp had all the reasons in the world to discourage Salah and Mane from fulfilling their duties. After all, I am certain that Klopp would have been aware that under Islamic teachings, it is permissible to break your fast “with anything that is adequate need” or if you are travelling during the day – which Salah and Mane did as Liverpool headed to Kyiv.
As a manager, Klopp could have kicked up a fuss and insisted that Salah and Mane must not fast and be in a 100% state for the final. But he did not. That is why he is Jurgen Klopp, not any of our local politicians.
And guess what? Liverpool beat Tottenham 2-0 to win their sixth Champions League title at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid with both press conferences in the run-up to the Champions League final
Liverpool superstars Salah and Mane maintained their fast during the 2019 UEFA Champions League final against Tottenham Hotspur. They did not break their religious obligations even for the crunch final game. Yet they convincingly won the final and wrote themselves into Liverpool’s folklore.
And if you are wondering if this was an isolated incident and not reflective of Klopp’s true nature, you are wrong again. Klopp offers Mane and Salah 2 minutes to do ablutions before matches if needed. Read his quote below.
“Muslims wash their bodies very often in specific situations. We therefore always finish our warm-ups 2 minutes early to give time for our Muslim players like Mane and Salah to wash up before the match, as requested by Islam. I have no problem giving them these 2 minutes to give them time to do something absolutely important for them!”
Klopp’s embracement of diversity and the respect he shows towards Muslims and non-Christians, has created positive ripples all over. According to a Stanford University study, since Salah joined Liverpool, hate crimes in the area have decreased by 19% and anti-Muslim comments online have dropped by 50%. Talk about impact on and off the pitch.
War Of Words Between Political Leaders In Malaysia
Compare this to what transpired in Malaysia last week. An unregistered temple in Kedah was demolished and subsequently sparked a war of words between PAS and MIC. Instead of doing a Klopp, Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor chose to chide MIC using words associated with racial stereotypes to hit back at his Indian critics over a Hindu temple demolition row.
Sanusi had suggested his critics, which included MIC and DAP leaders, were “drunk on the toddy of popularity” and advised them not to act as if they are “drunk on three bottles” after consuming only one bottle.
If only Klopp was the Menteri Besar, I am sure we would not have had the necessity to indulge in racial rhetoric such as this. If Klopp were the PM today, I am sure as hell that we would not be having discussions about how to foster national unity today.
You may not be a fan of Liverpool nor Klopp’s gegenpressing football. But, as a man, you can never hate him, can you?
With a leader like Klopp, you and I will never walk alone, ever.