Statistically, the football World Cup draws more viewers than the Olympic Games, which is regarded as the globe’s biggest sports event. To take an extereme case, according to FIFA, about 9th of the world population watched the matches of 2006 World Cup.

The current Belgian national team is seen by several football analysts as the most talented generation Belgium has ever had. Four Muslim players play in this squad which topped the FIFA World Ranking in 2015 and 2016.

In fact, the most famous of these players is Mousa Dembélé, a Malian-origin central midfielder, who plays for the English club Tottenham Hotspur. He’s one of the best box-to-box midfielders in Europe. Besides, he enjoys high dribbling skills and an ability to maintain possession.

Besides, there are also Marouane Fellaini and Nacer Chadli, both hailing from Morocco. Fellaini plays at the English club Manchester United and was named as Everton’s Best Young Player of 2008–09 Season.

Another Muslim player is Adnan Januzaj. Hailing from Albania, the 23-year-old winger and attacking midfielder is now plying his trade at the Spanish club Real Sociedad. He won Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year in 2012–13, and the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup Golden Ball in 2013.

Daler Kuzyaev hails from the second northernmost Muslim country in the world, Tatarstan, – after Sibir-. He is a 25-year-old Tatar player from Naberezhnye Chelny, the second largest city in the Muslim European country of Tatarstan. He plays for Russia and the Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg as central or right midfielder.

In addition, Aziz Behich is one of Australia’s Muslim players. He’s a 27-year-old Turkish left back and left winger from Cyprus who plays at the Turkish club Bursaspor.

The Bosnian talent Adem Ljajic plays in the Serbian national team. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder comes from the Bosnian city of Novi Pazar in the Bosnian region of Sandžak. He currently plays for the Italian club Torino.

For the first time four Arab countries namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia made it to the World Cup. None could however progress further to the round of 16 and were all eliminated after the first phase of matches. Sadly, the likes of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane who have illuminated the Premier League have not been able to impress at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.

Monaf Hossenbaccus