In a recent fatwa, senior Saudi cleric Sheikh 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barrak proclaimed that football 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. He issued the fatwa in response to a query by a reader on his website (albarrak.islamlight.net), who wondered how to react to football fans who admire and praise foreign football players.
The following is a translation of the sheikh's response.
The fatwa as posted on Al-Barrak's website (albarrak.islamlight.net) on May 21, 2014.
"There is no doubt that football, played according to [the accepted international rules], has caused Muslims to adopt some of the customs of the enemies of Islam, who are [preoccupied with] games and frivolity. [This game] causes many abominable and corrupt acts, including:
- Abominable acts [that contravene the] religion, such as 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, and [teams] competing to bring in the most expensive infidel players.
- A social abomination, manifest in being a fanatic [fan] of a certain team, which spawns hostility between the fans of different teams.
- A moral abomination, manifest in players or fans exchanging curses, [engaging in] profiteering, and being 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. [It is an act 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 [football] players...
Sheikh 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barrak (image: Islamtoday.net)
It should be noted that this is not the first time the sheikh has spoken against football. In the past he called it "the mother of all crimes" because it leads to wasting money and to "unwarranted displays of joy." He also said that it was part of a Jewish conspiracy against the Muslims, aimed at distancing them from Allah, corrupting their morals, and causing them to waste their time. He condemned Muslim countries for showing an interest in sports events, encouraging them, investing funds in them and wanting to host the world cup tournament.
Other Saudi clerics have also issued fatwas proclaiming that football contravenes the shari'a. Suleiman Al-'Alwan, a Salafi-jihadi sheikh who enjoys considerable popularity in Saudi Arabia, also spoke against football, calling it a heretical game and its players infidels and criminals.
 Albarrak.islamlight.net, May 21, 2014.
 Al-marsd.com, March 22, 2013.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5129, Fatwa By Saudi Sheikh: Soccer Players Are Infidels
January 10, 2013.