The following are excertps from an interview with Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajid. Iqra TV aired this interview on January 6, 2005:
Sheik Al-Munajid: Soccer, as a sport, is permitted, as long as the Islamic rules are observed. Islamic law has no objection to people kicking balls around and scoring a goal in a designated place, or with the players cooperating with one another during the game in order to reach the goal. This is true as long as religious law isn't violated - for example, if it prevents prayer. Sometimes people remain on the soccer field from before afternoon prayer until after evening prayer, and they miss the prayers.
Interviewer: Yes, this sometimes happens.
Sheik Al-Munajid: Second, revealing one's nakedness - and the thigh is part of one's nakedness… The Prophet made this clear when he said: "Oh Jurhoud, cover your thighs, because they are part of your nakedness." Third, all the gambling that takes place… When a team wins, all the "you pay me and you pay him" begins… The gambling is even organized by international companies. Fourth, the fans' support for teams reaches blows, both within the field and outside it, in schools, and other places, and this is a reason for divorce and various social tragedies. Fifth, intentional rough play… They always bring gurneys and ambulances onto the field…Besides, in soccer there is a lot of cheating and all that…
Interviewer: Also, a lot of money is wasted on it, while there are much worthier causes…
Sheik Munajid Of course, the waste of money, no doubt. And sometimes there are other things. You see some of them cross themselves when they score a goal, or imitate the infidels with certain dances. I've been told that some players around the world have specific dances and some of the Muslim players imitate these dances and sometimes put forbidden things on their chests.
Participating in sports activities is important. Women want to be shapely and fit, and this is there right. Who cares if they are called Swedish exercises, or Japanese exercises… So long as a woman performs these exercises in an Islamic legal manner, we don’t care what they are called. After all, she performs them at home. When do the problems begin? When women wear those outfits, which are tight-fitting, short, and so on. They go to public places and general stadiums. Some want women to participate in the Olympics! There is no doubt, and no Muslim would disagree, that women are not allowed to participate in the Olympics in full view, because this means exposing her nakedness.