Richard Whittall:

The Globalist's Top Ten Books in 2016: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Middle East Eye: "

The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer is one of the weightiest, most revelatory, original and important books written about sport"

“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”

Bob Bradley, former US and Egyptian national coach: "James Dorsey’s The Turbulent World of Middle Eastern Soccer (has) become a reference point for those seeking the latest information as well as looking at the broader picture."
Alon Raab in The International Journal of the History of Sport: “Dorsey’s blog is a goldmine of information.”
Play the Game: "Your expertise is clearly superior when it comes to Middle Eastern soccer."
Andrew Das, The New York Times soccer blog Goal: "No one is better at this kind of work than James Dorsey"
David Zirin, Sports Illustrated: "Essential Reading"
Change FIFA: "A fantastic new blog'

Richard Whitall of A More Splendid Life:
"James combines his intimate knowledge of the region with a great passion for soccer"

Christopher Ahl, Play the Game: "An excellent Middle East Football blog"
James Corbett, Inside World Football

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tunisian Soccer Protests Preceded Revolt That Toppled the President

A build-up of sporadic anti-government protests on the soccer pitch preceded the mass demonstrations that erupted in Tunisia in December, led to the toppling of Tunisian President Zine Abedine Ben Ali, and sparked the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, according to Tunisian and Arab soccer analysts.

Tunisian fans jeered Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou in November during the Orange CAF Champions League return final between Esperance Tunis and TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fans charged that the Togolose referee in the first encounter between the two teams in Congo in which Esperance lost had been corrupt and waved banknotes at Hayatou.

The protests led to clashes between the fans who like their counterparts in Egypt are street battled-hardened and police.

As far back as 2005, dissatisfaction with the Ben Ali regime boiled to the surface at soccer matches. Fans shouted anti-Ben Ali slogans during the Tunisia Cup final that year and insulted the Tunisian leader’s son Chiboub, forcing him to leave the match prematurely.

Analysts say Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation he suffered at the hands of a municipal official, resonated with soccer fans, many of which are unemployed. Bouazizi’s death sparked the protests in Tunisia.

Soccer fans were not involved in the planning or initial organization of the protests that ended Tunisia’s dictatorship, but actively participated in them.

The fans are “informal groups that are unstructured, talk among themselves in and around stadiums, but do not act in town,” said Faouzi Mahjoub, author of the French-language Miroir du Foot Africain blog, describing why the pitch was often the venue for expressing anti-government sentiment prior to last month’s revolt.

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