Iranian soccer club sack player for not fasting during Ramadan

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One of Iran's biggest soccer stars has been sacked by his club for not participating in Ramadan, in which Muslims must abstain from eating and drinking during the hours of daylight for a month.

A statement on Steel Azin FC's official website said: "The club has been forced to sack one of its players, Ali Karimi, for being disobedient and not fasting during Ramadan."

It continued: "(Ali Karimi) insulted officials of the (Iranian) football federation and the Tehran team's supervisor who confronted him on the issue."

But the player himself denied any wrongdoing, saying to ISNA news agency: "I am a Muslim and I believe in religious questions."

During his 22 year career as a pro, Karimi emerged as one of the centerpieces of Iran's national team and one of the most recognizable faces in Iranian sports.

The 31-year-old, who has been dubbed as Maradona of Asia, is the second most capped player in the Iran's history and was named that Asian Player of the Year in 2004.

He also had a two-year stint in the Bundesliga, scoring four goals in 50 appearances for Bayern Munich.

Ramadan started in Iran on Thursday and under Iranian laws, all Muslims are required to observe the holy month, while those who do not fast, including non-Muslims, are expected to abstain from eating or drinking in public.

Observing Ramadan involves abstaining from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset. Pregnant and menstruating women, the sick, travellers and pre-pubescent children are exempt from the fast.

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