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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

State-owned Arab TV Networks Employ Soccer to Boost Tarnished Credibility

Commercial broadcasters in the Middle East say state-owned networks are distorting competition by paying absorbent for monopoly rights to broadcast major soccer events.

The criticism comes ten days after Al Jazeera, the Qatar-owned path-breaking but controversial television network, paid an undisclosed amount for the right to broadcast the 2018 Russia and 2022 Qatar World Cups in the Middle East and North Africa.

Commercial rights to last year’s tournament in South Africa were sold for $3.4 billion.

It also follows last year’s awarding of the exclusive rights to air UAE Premier League to government-owned Abu Dhabi Media Company in a three-year deal believed to be worth $300 million.

As a result, state-backed media companies are establishing a virtual monopoly on broadcasting soccer events.

“There are people who are paying for sports rights in this market that have no commercial imperative to make money,” says David Butorac, CEO of Orbit Showtime Network (OSN), a major commercial pan-Arab satellite network that has lost bids for soccer broadcast rights.

Showtime is a joint venture between Kuwait Projects Company (Holding), which has interests in finance, insurance, real estate and telecommunications and Saudi investment company Mawarid Holding.

“The issue with sports rights is this market, is the sports rights have gone for uneconomic rates. The people who own the Premier League today cannot make money for what they’ve paid,” Butorac said.

With long-standing popular discontent exploding into anti-government protests on the streets of Arab capitals after having bubbled under the surface for years, profit may not be state-controlled broadcasting’s primary objective.

In a soccer-crazy region dominated by authoritarian regimes that do not brook dissent, controlling soccer rights is, perhaps with the exception of Al Jazeera, a key tool in attracting viewers to what are often networks with little credibility.

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