Saudi supporters at World Cup Asian qualifying playoff soccer match

The anticipation is building among fans of the world’s most popular sport as the World Cup opens this week in Brazil.

A senior Saudi sheik, however, has made it clear that any enthusiasm for the game expressed by Muslims is a moral, social and public abomination.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al Barrak has “proclaimed that football (soccer) is an abomination that causes people to waste their time, to adopt the depraved customs of the enemies of Islam, and to glorify ‘infidel’ football players.”

MEMRI monitors publications and broadcasts from the hotbeds of Middle East unrest and translates and analyzes them.

The “fatwa,” or religious ruling or edict, against soccer was posted on his website at, MEMRI said.

“There is no doubt that football, played according to [international rules], has caused Muslims to adopt some of the customs of the enemies of Islam, who are [preoccupied with] games and frivolity,” the sheik said.

He charged that the game “causes many abominable and corrupt acts.”

Among the acts that violate Islam are “befriending the infidels and admiring them.”

“One expression of this is admiring football players from infidel teams, praising them and honoring them in word and deed,” he said.

The sheik wrote that it is a “social abomination,” because “being a fanatic of a certain team … spawns hostility between the fans of different teams.”

Football is a “moral abomination,” he said, because players and fans exchange “curses,” engage in profiteering and are “aggressive or insulting people whenever their team or club wins.”

“In light of all this, liking and glorifying football is tantamount to engaging in a public abomination and encouraging it,” he said.

He said that following the sport has the effect of distracting “sectors of society – men and women, young and old – from important matters, both religious and non-religious, and busying them with trivial matters that do not benefit the nation but only lead to a waste of energy and time. This means that it is forbidden to praise or glorify infidel players.”

MEMRI noted that in the past, the sheik has called soccer “the mother of all crimes” because it leads to wasting money and to “unwarranted displays of joy.”

He also said that it was a part of a Jewish conspiracy against the Muslims, aimed at distancing them from Allah, corrupting their morals and causing them to waste their time.

MEMRI noted that other Saudi clerics have said soccer violates Shariah, the Islamic religious law.

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