08/19/2010, 00.00
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A former Bayern Munich footballer fired for not fasting during Ramadan

Dubbed the ‘Asian Maradona’, Ali Karimi in an interview takes a swipe at the Iranian Football Federation and the club’s managing director, a former member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. “Ninety-five per cent of football players do not fast,” a teammate says.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Ali Karimi, “the Maradona of Asia,” was fired by his club, Steel Azin FC, for not fasting during Ramadan, the club announced on Sunday on its website. Ramadan began in Iran on 12 August, and under Iranian law, all Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk for the entire holy month.

Steel Azin FC said on its website that it was “forced to sack one of its players, Ali Karimi, for being disobedient and not fasting during Ramadan”.

Karimi, who was the Asian Player of 2004, is the third highest scorer for the Iranian national team.

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

The 31-year-old player insulted officials of the Iranian Football Federation and criticised in an interview on his website the management style of the club’s managing director, a former official in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Mostafa Ajorlou.

Last year, Karimi played with green wristbands—green is the colour of groups opposed to Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s administration.

Despite getting the boot, the now jobless player received support from Steel Azin’s captain, Mehdi Mahdavikia, and teammate Mehrzad Madanchi, who said that 95 per cent of Iranian football players do not observe Ramadan.

The club's chairman, Hossein Hedayati, was unaware of the decision, Iran's state news agency IRNA reported.

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