Don’t call it soccer, call it jihad
The Saudi daily Al-Watan reported recently that Islamic extremists were inciting Saudi soccer players to quit their teams and wage jihad in Iraq. According to these reports, the young athletes were influenced by fatwas forbidding the game of soccer except when played under certain conditions and with the express intention of using the game as physical training for jihad. Saudi sheikhs and intellectuals have criticized the fatwas and the religious authorities that issued them (you don’t have to be a sheikh or an intellectual to criticize someone who makes a laughing stock of your faith).
"1. Don't play soccer with four lines [surrounding the field], since this is the way of the non-believers
"2. One should not use the terminology established by the non-believers and the polytheists, like: 'foul,' 'penalty kick,' 'corner kick,' 'goal,' and 'out of bounds.' Whoever pronounces these terms should be punished, reprimanded, kicked out of the game
"3. If one of you falls during the game and breaks his hand or his foot, or if the ball hits his hand, he shall not say 'foul' and shall not stop playing because of his injury.
"4. Do not set the number [of players] according to the number of players used by the non-believers, the Jews, the Christians, and especially the vile America. In other words, 11 players shall not play together. Make it a larger or a smaller number.
"5. Play in your normal clothing, or in pajamas, or something like that, but not in colorful pants and numbered jerseys
"6. Once you have fulfilled [these] conditions and rules, you must play the entire game with the intention of improving your physical fitness for the purpose of fighting Jihad for Allah's sake and preparing for the time when jihad is needed.
"7. Do not play for 45 minutes, as is the practice among the Jews, the Christians, and in all of the countries of non-belief and atheism.
"8. Do not play in two parts [i.e. halves], but rather in one part or in three parts, so as to be different than the sinful and rebellious, the non-believers and the polytheists.
"9. If neither side has defeated the other and neither side has inserted the ball between the posts, do not waste further time [in an extension] or in 'penalty kicks' until someone has won, but rather leave [the field] immediately
"10. Do not appoint someone who follows the players around and is called 'a referee',
"11. In the course of the game it is forbidden for groups of youth to gather and watch, since if you are gathering for the sake of sports activity and physical fitness, as you claim, why should they be looking at you
"12. When you finish playing, be careful not to talk about the game, and not to say 'we play better than the opponent,' or 'so-and-so is a good player,' etc. Moreover, you should speak about your body, its strength and its muscles, and about the fact that you are playing as [a means of] training to run, attack, and retreat in preparation for [waging] jihad for Allah's sake.
"13. If one of you inserts the ball between the posts and then starts to run so that his companions will run after him and hug him, like the players in America and France do, you should spit in his face, punish him, and reprimand him, for what do joy, hugging, and kissing have to do with sports?
"14. You must take the three posts or iron rods which you use to construct [the goal], and into which the ball is kicked, and replace them with just two instead of three. In other words, take out the cross-post or rod… so that [the goal] will not be similar to what is customary among the non-believers
Read it all (I have reduced it a bit), especially if you like soccer!