The Globalist's Top Ten Books in 2016: The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer
“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer has helped me immensely with great information and perspective.”
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"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, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
“This victory is for Egypt,” Kenya’s The Nation newspaper quoted Zamalek coach and Africa’s most capped player, Hossam Hassan, as saying.
“We just played our best and concentrated on the game on the pitch. We pray and hope that things will be back to normal when we play in the return match at home,” Hassan said.
Zamalek scored its victory at the very moment that Al Ahly soccer fans emerged as one of the most significant forces in four days of protests that have already forced Mubarak to dismiss his government.
To be sure, large numbers of Zamalek fans went shoulder-to-shoulder on Egyptian streets with their Ahly rivals, demanding the departure of Mubarak as well as forming neighbourhood watch groups to guard against looters and thugs. Whether the bonding on the embattled streets of Egypt has a long-term effect on relations between the two clubs remains to be seen.
The dichotomy of Zamalek playing while much of Egypt battled to seal the country’s future is however more likely to ultimately fuel the two clubs’ century old feud.
The feud amounts to social and political warfare. Their vicious derbies on and off the pitch have caused death, destruction and in at least one case in the early 70s, the entire league to be cancelled. At stake is far more than pride; theirs is a struggle about nationalism, class and escapism. The rivalry was one reason the Egyptian Football Federation on Thursday cancelled all matches.
So deep-seated is their rivalry that the government insists that matches be played on neutral ground with foreign referees flown in to manage the game. Hundreds of black-clad riot police, soldiers and plain clothes security personnel, worried about what the teams’ ultras, particularly those of Al Ahly, may have in store, surround the stadium on game day. Routes to and from stadiums are strictly managed so that opposing fans don’t come into contact with one another before or after the match.
The roots of their rivalry pre-date the revolution to when Britain ruled Egypt and soccer was regarded as the colonial power’s only popular cultural import. Founded more than a hundred years ago as an Egyptians only meeting place for opponents of Britain’s colonial rule, Al Ahly, which means The National, was a nationalistic rallying ground for average Egyptians. Its players still wear the red colors of the pre-colonial Egyptian flag.
Dressed in white, Zamalek, which originally was named Al Mohtalet or The Mix and then Farouk in honour of the than hated Egyptian monarch, was the club of the British colonial administrators and military brass as well as the Cairo upper class.
Independence did little to resolve the feud. El Ahly republicans represented the faithful, the poor and the nationalist. They battled Zamalek’s conservative royalists and bourgeois middle class and still do.
“Zamalek is the biggest political party in Egypt. We see the injustice of the football federation and the government against whatever once belonged to the king,” said Zamalek board member Hassan Ibrahim last year, discussing his club’s feud with Al Ahly.
“The federation and the government see Zamalek as the enemy. Zamalek represents the people who express their anger against the system. We view Ahly as the representative of corruption in Egypt.”
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Street signs in the Qatari capital Doha read: “Don’t kill us, we are at work.”
The workers are a necessarily evil, but over time they are almost certain to change the nature of society and make their impact on national culture and identity – a notion that sends chills down Qatari spines.
The Washington Post is reporting that the USSF at this point still plans to let the match scheduled for February 9 go ahead as planned. The US players are scheduled to arrive in Cairo on February 6.
"As of now, we are still planning to play the match," the Post quoted USSF spokesman Neil Buethe as saying. Buethe said the federdation was monitoring the situation.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians are clashing as of this writing in unprecedented protests that have swept several countries in the Middle East and already toppled Tunisian President Zine Abidine Ben Ali. Its hard to see how calm will return to Cairo any time soon.