What is apparent from the state of football these days is that it is impermissible and objectionable―it is not allowed to get involved with it at all because it distracts people from the remembrance of Allah… (Shaikh Ibn Bāz)

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Shaikh Ibn Bāz (rahimahullāh) stated: “All types of amusement and pastimes that divert one from the remembrance of Allah and the Prayer are forbidden whether it be dice, backgammon, chess and the other pastimes that occupy the people away from obedience to Allah, become a barrier to the obedience of Allah and divert them from that which Allah has obligated upon them. Indeed, Allah (the Most High) stated:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُ وَالْمَيْسِرُ وَالْأَنْصَابُ وَالْأَزْلَامُ رِجْسٌ مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ ۝ إِنَّمَا يُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُوقِعَ بَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةَ وَالْبَغْضَاءَ فِي الْخَمْرِ وَالْمَيْسِرِ وَيَصُدَّكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَعَنِ الصَّلَاةِ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُنْتَهُونَ

“O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, sacrificing on stone alters [to other than Allah], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so keep away from it that you may be successful. Shaytān only wants to cause animosity and hatred between you through intoxicants and gambling and to divert you from the remembrance of Allah and from Prayer. So will you not desist?” (Al-Mā’idah: 90-91)

Gambling is a game of chance, and it is an amusement―and gambling with wealth is a distraction and an amusement. So, any game that resembles gambling (betting), then through that a person is distracted; such as chess that involves betting or dice games. As for chess without taking bets, then this also is amusement and distraction.

Likewise with football―if those who are playing it are distracted from the Prayer, then it is harām (prohibited) for them to play. However, if there are people who play it in the mornings (for example) for exercise or to strengthen their bodies; and to jog and run and to pass around the ball at a time when the Prayer (Salāh) is not close, and they are not diverted or prevented from praying or from any other obligation, then the rule in Islam is that is allowed. So if it is played at a time wherein one is not diverted from the remembrance of Allah or from fulfilling the Islamic obligations, then the origin is that it is allowed.

However, in these times what is witnessed from people of football is that they are distracted away from all good. Football diverts them from the Prayers (and worship and obedience)―and it diverts others too, not just the footballers. It distracts those who watch football, even those who watch from their homes, and we seek refuge with Allah, that people in their homes are distracted by this game. What is apparent from the state of football these days is that it is impermissible and objectionable―it is not allowed to get involved with it at all because it distracts people from the remembrance of Allah and from the Prayer. It occupies the players and others (spectators and fans) from the Prayer. Maybe they miss both the ‘Asr and Maghrib Prayers due to this unworthy pursuit―then what? What is the cost of this football? What price does it have? If Shaytān had not beautified it for its followers, then possibly yes, if the people played it at a time that would not distract them, we would not say it is impermissible because it is a game that does not involve usury (ribā) or betting or gambling. However, in these times the affair has grown, and there is exaggeration and obsession over football, to the extent that it diverts them from praying ‘Asr and Maghrib if they are playing at these times―and that is a great evil. Additionally, there are hundreds and thousands of spectators and viewers (fans), all of them distracted by this game. They pay money to watch the game and to attend the game, and they too fail to pray just like the footballers.”

Source: فتاوى الجامع الكبير حكم لعب كرة القدم وغيرها من الألعاب

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