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

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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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Barcelona revisits Qatar sponsorship deal amid fan protests

By James M. Dorsey

A revolt by fans has forced the board of European champions FC Barcelona to review its $225 million sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation, the first in the club’s star-studded history.

The board is scheduled to discuss the deal on Saturday, which was concluded last December as Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup. As a result of the deal, Barcelona’s willingness to wear the UNICEF logo for free has been relegated to the back of its players’ shirts.

Thousands of Barcelona fans revolted against the deal and signed a petition demanding its cancellation.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola expressed support for the deal on the club’s website. He described Qatar as "the most open Muslim country".

Mr. Guardiola, who played for Qatar's Al Ahly from 2003 to 2005 said that “it’s very good that we debate this and also a very good decision of the board’s to let the members decide on it. It’s one of the healthy democratic values we have. I can tell you that I lived for two years in Qatar and my family and I received wonderful treatment."

Mr. Guardiola said that "Qatar is on a roll right now, with the World Cup going there, and their bid for the Olympics, and that is the result of an extraordinary effort that the country is making to open itself to the world, whilst maintaining its own traditions."

He added that "if the members decide to continue, then we will still have the sponsorship of a foundation which is doing things for research and for culture. If not, then we will move ahead with different resources. Whatever happens, the players will continue to run and fight, which in the end is the most important thing."

Barcelona's legendary former Dutch coach Johan Cruyff is among the high profile opponents of the Qatar Foundation deal. Mr. Cruijff called the deal "vulgar".

The Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995, funds education, scientific research and community development projects primarily in the Middle East.

The questioning of the Qatar Foundation deal comes as Barcelona is struggling financially. Barcelona posted a $107 million loss last season and has debts of $596 million.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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