FIFA to rescue of troubled Saudi King Salman

By James M. Dorsey Palestine is a headache Saudi King Salman doesn’t need as he confronts rare demands from members of his ruling family that he and his son be removed from power, growing unease about a seven-month old devastating military campaign in Yemen that has caused devastation and mounting civilian casualties, widespread criticism of … [Read more…]

Egypt throws the dice with partial lifting of stadia ban

By James M. Dorsey The Egyptian interior ministry, in a potential signal that the country’s military-backed regime recognizes that its choking off of all public space could backfire, has agreed to allow fans to attend international matches played by the national team and Egyptian clubs. In doing so, the ministry de facto acknowledged that it … [Read more…]

Israel’s fault lines spill onto the soccer pitch

By James M. Dorsey Israel’s multiple fault lines – secular vs religious, Jewish vs Palestine and controversial calls for a boycott of the Jewish state – are exploding on the soccer pitch. The spill over comes as President Reuven Rivlin warned in a recent speech that Israel was being fragmented by four tribes that view … [Read more…]

Religious support for Qatari labour reforms puts Gulf states on the spot

By James M. Dorsey A panel in Doha of religious scholars, officials of Qatar’s government-sponsored human rights committee, and international labour activists has called on Qatar to radically alter its controversial labour policies. The call serves to support Qatari government promises of labour reform in response to World Cup-related international criticism and increases moral pressures … [Read more…]

Militant soccer fans are on a roll across Eurasia

By James M. Dorsey Militant soccer fans are on a roll in the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia. Fans in Turkey and Egypt have defeated legal efforts to criminalize them as terrorists while Malaysian ultras are tackling corruption in and mismanagement of their country’s soccer association. In Germany, the pitch anticipated the government’s shift … [Read more…]