Chelsea hosts first ever Open Iftar in a Premier League stadium
Chelsea Football Club became the first Premier League club to hold an Open Iftar event in its stadium.
The West London club opened its doors to the local community on Sunday evening, with hundreds gathering to break their fast pitch side at Stamford Bridge.
The Open Iftar event welcomed members from local mosques, including supporters and school students and Chelsea FC staff.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Ramadan Tent Project, a charity established to unite communities and develop an understanding of Ramadan.
There were speeches from Dowshan Humzah, the Ramadan Tent Project’s Advisory Board Member, Tufail Hussain, UK Director of Islamic Relief and Safwaan Hussein, Imam at the Islamic Culture and Education Centre, before prayers were led by Imran Abu Hassan.
Ramadan is recognised at Chelsea as part of the No To Hate campaign, a club-wide equality, diversity and inclusion programme targeting hate and discrimination.
Chelsea’s current squad includes several Muslim players, including Wesley Fofana, N’Golo Kante, Hakim Ziyech and Malang Sarr.
Community coming together
Paul Canoville, the first black player to play for Chelsea, was a guest speaker at the event.
“It means everything to me seeing that the community is together. That’s what football is all about - bringing people together,’ said Canoville, who played 103 games in a five-year period between 1981 and 1986," he said.
“I didn’t know what to expect but it was an experience I’ve never come across and definitely one I’d like to do again.
“I’m proud and honoured to be invited and asked to speak today by the club.’”
Lord Daniel Finkelstein, the chairman of the Chelsea Foundation, said: ”We are a big community with lots of supporters from different backgrounds and we want to honour, respect and share the joy of every single fan.”
“This is about saying yes to love, inclusion, community and yes to everyone who wants to be a Chelsea fan.
“It’s very special to be the first Premier League club to host an Open Iftar and something we are extremely proud about.”
Matches paused for fasting
English football has been a leading example when it comes to including Muslim fans and players.
Just last week, it was revealed that Premier League and English Football League referees have been asked to pause matches so Muslim players can break their fast when there is a natural stoppage in play.
Before the start of the game, referees will identify players who are observing Ramadan to see whether a stoppage in play is needed.
Last year, several matches were briefly paused to allow Muslim footballers to break their fasts.
In April 2021, the match between Leicester and Crystal Palace was briefly interrupted to allow Wesley Fofana to break his fast.