Soccer highlights domestic drivers in Saudi-Iranian dispute

By James M. Dorsey Saudi Arabia and Iran, highlighting the domestic drivers of mounting tension that threatens to deepen and complicate sectarian and multiple other regional conflicts, have taken their fierce tit-for-tat battle from the realm of traditional diplomacy to the world of public diplomacy. Following a dizzying sequence of events, including the Saudi execution … [Read more…]

Fearful of protests, Egypt keeps stadia closed

By James M Dorsey Egyptian law enforcement authorities and the Egyptian Football Association (EFA), in a reflection of fears that stadia in Egypt could once more emerge as platforms for anti-government protest, have extended a ban on spectators attending matches that has been in place for much of the last five years. The decision dashed … [Read more…]

Qatari labour reforms: Words but no actions

By James M. Dorsey Words but no actions. That is Amnesty International’s evaluation of promised Qatari labour reforms on the fifth year of the awarding of the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to the Gulf state. Qatar’s failure to enact wide-ranging reforms heightens the risk of its hosting rights being called into question against a … [Read more…]

Breeding intolerance: Turkish soccer fans disrespect Islamic State victims

By James M. Dorsey Turkish fans twice in two months disrupted moments of silence for victims of Islamic State attacks in Ankara and Paris in a demonstration of the kind of intolerance bred by religiously-cloaked authoritarianism in countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The fans demonstrative empathy with the Islamic State by shouting Allahu Akbar, … [Read more…]

Soccer is Politics

Soccer is Politics (JMD in The American Interest) JAMES M. DORSEY   Why Egypt’s repressive regime considers soccer fans one of its biggest threats. A hmed (not his real name) is an Egyptian soccer fan —and a fugitive. He has been expelled from university, convicted twice in absentia, and sentenced to two long terms in … [Read more…]