Qatar’s quagmire: existential fears and missed opportunities

By James M. Dorsey Walking around Qatar’s monumental Aspire Dome sports academy, coach Fred Engh noticed kids playing soccer on an indoor field big enough to accommodate four teams simultaneously during a break in an annual gathering of hundreds of sports leaders designed to project the Gulf state as an innovative, socially responsible global sports … [Read more…]

The Cairo derby: Politics vs. repression

By James M. Dorsey This month’s premier league final between Cairo’s two storied clubs, Al Ahli SC and Al Zamalek SC, once the world’s most violent derby, was more than a clash between two soccer giants. It was a clash between management styles and diametrically opposed approaches towards militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened soccer fans. … [Read more…]

Israeli soccer violence moves racism up the government’s agenda

By James M. Dorsey A violent display of racism by extreme nationalist supporters of storied Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem coupled with recent Ethiopian Israeli protests against discrimination and the government’s handling of the capture of two Israelis by Hamas has moved racist attitudes towards dark-skinned Jews and Israeli Palestinian up the government’s agenda. Driving … [Read more…]

Fan opposition to Qatar goes viral

By James M. Dorsey World Cup host Qatar is discovering the reputational risk involved in hosting high-profile mega sporting events. Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of FC Barcelona is producing exactly the kind of publicity that is a corporate sponsor’s worst nightmare while a Swiss investigation of the Qatari World Cup bid threatens to expose questionable financial … [Read more…]

FIFA’s Blatter unwittingly pinpoints soccer governance’s prime issues

By James M. Dorsey Embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter unwittingly put his finger on two fundamental issues that underlie a corruption scandal that has rocked world soccer governance, the worst crisis in the sport’s history: the fiction that sports and politics are separate and hypocrisy that distorts legitimate debate about Qatar’s successful but controversial World … [Read more…]

Egyptian soccer player criticizes Sisi in reflection of mounting discontent

By James M. Dorsey Criticism this week by soccer player Ahmed al-Merghani of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s hard-handed repression of dissent and failure to defeat a mushrooming insurgency in the Sinai peninsula signals mounting discontent in Egypt. Mr. Al-Merghani’s comments on his Facebook page are indicative because they suggested the degree to which Mr. … [Read more…]

Unprecedented Israeli action against Jerusalem club’s anti-Arab/Muslim racism

By James M. Dorsey The Israeli government, in a historic break with past policy, is taking right-wing, nationalist Israeli soccer club, Beitar Jerusalem, to task for its openly racist policy of refusing to hire Israeli-Palestinian players, who rank among the country’s top performers. The move just weeks after the Israel Football Association (IFA) narrowly pre-empted … [Read more…]