Some good news. By Elliott Cappell in the Jerusalem Post, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
In August of 2005, with the countdown to last summer’s World Cup in Germany underway, three players from a well-known Saudi soccer club abruptly quit the team because of an anonymous fatwa, religious ruling, that led them to believe soccer was forbidden by religious law. One of those three, Majid al-Sawat, was later arrested while planning to carry out a suicide bombing in Iraq.
As soccer is not just a sport, but also a social institution across the Arab world, many in the West are frightened by the power of a fatwa that can turn a professional athlete into a suicide bomber overnight.
However, a study released this month by PRISM, a Herzliya think-tank on Islamic social affairs, alleviates such fears. It reveals that radical fatwas on soccer have actually had a very limited effect on the Islamic world. According to the study’s author, Moshe Terdman, “the popularity of the soccer game among the Arab and Muslim peoples, as well as among the radical Muslims themselves, keeps [the sport] alive and beats all the Islamist attempts to dissuade Muslims from watching or playing it.”