Volleyball in Iran: A litmus test for women’s rights

By James M. Dorsey An international volleyball tournament in the Iranian capital has thrown into sharp relief a debate in international sporting associations on how to deal with nations that restrict women’s rights as athletes and/or spectators. How the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) evaluates next month’s World League in Tehran is likely to shape … [Read more…]

Kuwaiti rulers fight their internal battles on the sports field

By James M. Dorsey Political infighting within Kuwait’s ruling family is about to take a dramatic turn with reports that the Gulf state plans to dissolve its national sports organizations in a blatant illustration of the incestuous relationship between sports and politics. The expected Kuwaiti move, part of an effort to sideline Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad … [Read more…]

Power in Turkey: Islamist power struggle returns to the pitch

by James M. Dorsey The opening of a court case against Turkish soccer star Hakan Sukur on charges of insulting the president takes Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s autocratic ambitions back to their origins: an Islamist power struggle with exiled preacher Fethullalh Gulen that erupted five years ago on the pitch. A soccer player-turned-politician who in 2011 … [Read more…]

Men’s hair takes centre stage in battle over legitimacy of political Islam

By James M. Dorsey The Muslim world’s battle over the legitimacy of political Islam has expanded to the soccer pitch as proponents and opponents of interpreting the faith politically seek to impose their public morals with men’s hairstyles and facial hair taking centre stage. At the core of the battle are fans and players, a … [Read more…]