CAIRO: Watching World Cup matches is haram (religiously forbidden,) if it distracts people from religious duties, Yasser Borhamy, deputy head of the Salafi Call said Saturday.
Watching World Cup games is “a disaster that infuriates me,” Borhamy said in a video posted on the Ana Salafi website Saturday.
Borhamy has a reputation as a firebrand, and earlier this year issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims to offer greetings of congratulations to Christians on Easter. The Ministry of Endowments filed a complaint against him Saturday after he violated a ruling by former president Adly Mansour restricting preaching to those accredited by Al-Azhar by giving a sermon at Al-Omrania Mosque.
“There are some intellectuals that absolutely forbid it [watching matches,]” Borhamy said Saturday, adding that football games cause distraction to people and waste time, wondering, “where do people get this time?”
Egypt has a 13.4% unemployment rate according to a May report by the Ministry of Planning, and street cafes in Cairo are routinely filled with young men drinking coffee and smoking shisha pipes; now that the World Cup has started, many cafes broadcast the matches to the caffeinated audiences.
In an interview with CBC Sunday, Borhamy said, “I didn’t say that watching World Cup games is religiously forbidden,” adding that the conditions which would make it forbidden include: “if someone left the praying [to watch soccer games,] the intolerance when people say that they would die for it [the team] and when some people take off their clothes to express their joy.”
A World Cup tradition includes players exchanging jerseys following their matches, often on camera.
During the past couple of months, especially during the lead-up to the presidential election held May 26-28, a series of fatwas were issued by leading preachers and religious figures.
Borhamy issued a fatwa during a press conference on May 28 organized by the Nour Party that “Sisi is the most capable candidate to manage the country because he does not smoke cigarettes, is religious and regularly prays.”