Showing posts from October, 2011

Palestine unveils sports plan in effort to further state- and nationhood

Palestinian sports czar Jibril Rajoub
By James M. Dorsey Palestine is scoring points on and off the soccer pitch as it seeks to employ sports to further its bid for statehood, ensure international support in its struggle against the debilitating effects of Israeli occupation and initiate a social revolution at home.

The Palestinian effort kicked into high gear this month with the unveiling of an ambitious ten-year plan backed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Palestine Authority to develop sports and a women’s friendly soccer match against world champion Japan.

The plan drafted by Spanish consultants hired by the IOC, which calls for a €61 million investment in sports facilities, was presented this week to donors by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, foreign minister Riyad al-Malki and Jibril Rajoub, who doubles as head of the Palestine Olympic Committee and the territory's soccer association.

"This is a breakthrough. Sports is a Palestine Authority prior…

Israel and Hamas: A new equation for Mid-East peace?

RSIS presents the following commentary Israel and Hamas: A new equation for 
Mid-East peace? by James M. Dorsey. It is also available online at this link
 (To print it, click on this link.). Kindly forward anycomments or feedback to the
 Editor RSIS Commentaries,

No. 156/2011 dated 27 October 2011
Israel and Hamas:
A new equation for Mid-East 

By James M. Dorsey Synopsis

Israeli and Palestinian hardliners rather than moderates are serving each other's
purpose in the Middle East conflict. That is the underlying dynamic of the political
calculations of both Israel and Hamas in the recent lop-sided swap of an Israeli 
soldier for over a thousand Palestinian prisoners.


THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN peace process remains frozen with little, if any,  prospect of it gaining momentum. President Mahmoud Abbas' effort to achieve  United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood in a bid to break the  logjam…

UAE’s Al Serkal lobbies Gulf to support his AFC candidacy

Yousef al Serkal (Source: Gulf News) By James M. Dorsey Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice president Yousef Al Serkal, a former president of the United Arab Emirates soccer association, is lobbying Gulf countries to support him as the Arab consensus candidate to succeed suspended AFC president Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, as head of the Asian body. Mr. Al Serkal, hopes to capitalize on opposition to the ambition of Bahrain Football Association head Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to succeed Mr. Bin Hammam, who was fired in July as vice president of world soccer body FIFA on charges of bribery and suspended as AFC chief pending his appeal at the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS). Mr. Bin Hammam has denied any wrongdoing. With Middle Eastern soccer managers confident that an Arab candidate has a good chance of succeeding Mr. Bin Hammam, Mr. Al Serkal, widely viewed as an associate of the disgraced Qatari national, is less controversial than Sheikh Salman, a member of…

Prominent soccer executives and players seek compromise on the hijab

FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein
By James M. Dorsey
World soccer body FIFA and observant Muslim women soccer players may be close to a compromise in their dispute over the wearing of the hijab, a headdress that covers the neck, ears and hair.
The dispute led in June to the disqualification of the Iranian women’s national team after they appeared on the pitch in the Jordanian capital Amman for a 2012 London Olympics qualifier against Jordan because the players wore the hijab. Three Jordanian players who wear the hijab were also barred.
The Iranian team’s insistence on wearing the hijab contradicted an agreement reached last year in Singapore between FIFA and the Iranian Football Federation (IFF) under which the Iranians agreed to the wearing of a cap that covered hair but not the neck.
Prominent soccer executives, women players, coaches and referees agreed at a brainstorm in Amman this week convened by FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a half-brother of King Abdul…

Islamists fare well in an Arab world in revolt

Tunisian Islamists claim election victory (Source: AFP/Lionel Bonaventure)
By James M. Dorsey
The score is 1:0 in favor of the Islamists in this month’s Arab revolt match.
Islamists emerged from Tunisia’s first post-revolt election as the country’s foremost political force set to play a key role in drafting the country’s new constitution. With Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi dead, jockeying for political position has begun in earnest and Islamists who played an important part in eight months of fighting that led to his demise are demanding their share of power.
Hamas, the Islamist grouping that controls the Gaza Strip, has significantly strengthened its position at the expense of its arch rival Al Fatah headed by Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with the freeing of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit from five years in captivity in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prison.
Islamists also stand to gain in Syria as the country moves ever closer…

Somali jihadists focus on banning women's sports rather than famine

Locked into battle: Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (Source: Reuters) By James M. Dorsey

While Al Qaeda is projecting a kinder, gentler image by distributing aid to famine victims, its local Somali affiliate, the Al Shabab, areensuring strict adherence to a five-year old ban on women's sports. The emphasis on women constitutes an expanded enforcement of the Shabab's extreme interpretation of Quranic guidelines on sports that in recent years focused primarily on efforts to ban soccer for men as well as women.

The Shabab focus not only contrasts with Al Qaeda's effort to project a different image after having lost much of its appeal with its attacks on Arab residential compounds and luxury hotels in the first half of the last decade and being even more sidelined by this year's Arab revolt sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. It also highlights differing attitudes with Al Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups such as Palestine's Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbol…
Nordafrika "Der Islam undder Fußball sind das Wichtigste"
Bei den Umstürzen in Nordafrika spielte Fußball eine wichtige Rolle. Forscher J. Dorsey spricht im Interview über Ultras auf dem Tahrir-Platz und Esel im Gadhafi-Trikot.
© AFP IOPP/Getty Images

Fans des ägyptischen Clubs Al-Ahly im Kairoer Derby gegen Zamalek
ZEIT ONLINE: Herr Dorsey, am Wochenende wird in Tunesien zum ersten Mal nach den Revolutionen in Nordafrika gewählt. Welche Rolle spielt der Fußball bei diesen Wahlen?
James M. Dorsey: Im Mittleren Osten und in Nordafrika ist Fußball immer sehr politisch gewesen. Der tunesische Diktator Ben Ali hat den Fußball benutzt, genau wie Mubarak in Ägypten oder Ahmadineschad in Iran. Für sie war es wichtig, ein Teil dieses positiven Gefühls zu werden, dass den Fußball umgibt. Auch nach der Revolution sehen viele politische Parteien Fußball als eine Möglichkeit, Wahlen zu beeinflussen und haben viele Fußballer als Kandidaten angeworben.
James M. Dorsey

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James M. Dorsey ist…

Egyptian soccer in uproar over penalties for fan violence

Al Ahly boycotts Egypt Cup
By James M. Dorsey
Egyptian soccer is in uproar over new penalties for fan violence and new marketing rules announced by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) that have prompted crowned Cairo club Al Ahly SC, Africa’s most popular team, to boycott this season’s Egypt Cup.
The uproar comes as Confederation of African Football (CAF) secretary general Hicham El-Amrani upheld Egypt despite its multiple violations of world soccer body FIFA’s rules and regulations as an African example of the professionalization of sports.
The new penalties are designed to curb politically motivated militant soccer fan activism that since early September resulted in repeated clashes with security forces, the death of three protesters and the wounding of some 1,200 others, and the recent storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
Fourteen soccer fans are standing trial in two different cases for the riots. The courts are scheduled to issue verdicts in late November.
Militant, violence-p…