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Bob Bradley’s experience in Egypt means a lot to his Muslim players

LAFC boss shows apparently uncommon understanding of Ramadan.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Three players from Los Angeles Football Club are fully observing Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims. And from the sound of it, they’re getting more respect from their boss than they normally do.

LAFC’s writer Vince La Rosa has a terrific story on defender Mohamed El-Munir observing Ramadan over on the club’s website. I’d definitely urge you to read it in full.

Notably, El-Munir, a newcomer to LAFC this season after a debut season in MLS last year with Orlando City, says LAFC manager Bob Bradley has an uncommon understanding of players fasting and other observances that take place during Ramadan.

“Bob is the second coach I’ve worked with in my nine professional years as a soccer player who really understands this. He takes it with a big heart and an open mind,” El-Munir said. “He didn’t make it difficult for me or the guys fasting with us because I had issues with most of the coaches I worked with.”

The story says that El-Munir is fasting for Ramadan, alongside forward Adama Diomande, utilityman Latif Blessing, and goalkeeper coach Zak Abdel.

El-Munir, a 27-year-old who has played professionally in his native Libya, Serbia, Belarus and now the United States, reveals something rather eye-opening with his statement that Bradley’s only the second coach to be fully considerate of players observing Ramadan. While he hasn’t played for every coach and there are surely others who are good with observing players, it’s pretty disappointing to hear as a general statement.

But it also offers another endorsement of Bradley’s experience abroad. He could have comfortably rested on his laurels as one of the top American coaches of all time, but after being fired as U.S. Men’s National Team head coach in 2011, he went abroad.

Bradley had stops in Norway, France and Wales, but the time that likely opened his eyes to respecting Muslim religious practices of course came during his stint as Egyptian National Team coach from 2011-13. El-Munir mentioned that as well in the story.

“With Bob, he was in Egypt a long time and he worked with Muslim people and he really understands how these things go. That’s what really helps. Even in practice, you can’t be focused all the time, sometimes when you really push hard you’ll be tired thinking about no food and no water, so you lose your focus. And you do some mistakes that normally you won’t do. Of course, they can see but they try to not speak about this because they understand that these things would not happen if it wasn’t for the fasting.”

We know Bradley has extremely high standards, he loves a good rant and, um, he doesn’t exactly look like a cuddly guy. But the story of El-Munir and Ramadan really highlights not only Bradley’s humanity, which should be commended, but also the fact that going abroad, living in a different culture and seeing how other people live is a good learning experience. It’s great to hear that the coach doesn’t ball out or punish players exercising their religious beliefs, and oh yeah, they’re in first place. Must make the workplace culture so much better for those observing Ramadan and indeed, everyone else, too.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!