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Showing posts from January, 2012

Saudi Arabia builds stadium to accommodate women

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Saudi stadiums: men only


By James M. Dorsey


Saudi Arabia is building its first stadium especially designed to allow women who are currently barred from attending soccer matches because of the kingdom’s strict public gender segregation to watch games.


The stadium in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah is scheduled to be completed in 2014 and will have private cabins and balconies to accommodate female spectators, according to Al Sharq, a state-owned newspaper.


“Sources close the stadium said more than 15 percent of the facility will be allocated for families when the facility is fully completed in 2014. Besides families, female journalists and photographers will also be admitted into the stadium and will be allocated exclusive places away from male journalists so they can cover local and international events,” Al Sharq said.


Saudi puritan interpretation of Islam prohibits unrelated men and women from mingling in public. Saudi Arabia refers to public areas for women or families as family areas i…

Turkish soccer crisis dents Erdogan’s political prospects

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Crisis deepends: TFF Boss Mehmet Ali Aydinal (Source Murad Sezer, Reuters)
By James M. Dorsey
Turkey's soccer federation has rejected a proposed rule change that would have prevented teams found guilty of match-fixing from being relegated in a move that counters Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s catering to soccer bosses and their corporate backers and plunges the country’s troubled multi-billion dollar league into an even deeper crisis.
The vote during a tense emergency session of the federation’s general assembly also threatens Turkish soccer’s efforts to become more competitive.
It came two weeks before the opening of a trial against 93 people, including Aziz Yildirim, president of Istanbul’s Fenerbahce SK and 14 players, in a match-fixing scandal involving eight teams that affected 19 league games last season.
Despite being threatened with relegation and loss of its league title, Fenerbahce was among those opposed to a more lenient treatment of offenders. Fenerbahce has alrea…

Feinde im Hass vereint (JMD quotes in German)

Von Martin Einsiedler


BERLIN (dapd) -- Ein Fußballspiel zwischen den zwei verfeindeten ägyptischen Klubs Al-Ahly und Zamalek SC lässt keine normalen Umstände zu. Die Derbys der Kairoer Vereine werden auf neutralem Platz ausgetragen und von einem ausländischen Schiedsrichter geleitet. Zu tief geht der Riss durch die Anhängerschaften. Vor einem Jahr aber wurde die Feindschaft zur Nebensache: Die Fans beider Lager gingen am 25. Januar gemeinsam auf die Straße, um gegen das Mubarak-Regime zu demonstrieren. Besonders die beiden Ultra-Gruppierungen spielten eine bedeutende Rolle beim Aufbegehren gegen den Staat. Und der gemeinsame Kampf geht weiter.


"Während der Herrschaft von Husni Mubarak war das Kairoer Derby das gewalttätigste auf der ganzen Welt. Die Polizei bildete eine Art schwarzer Stahlring um das Stadion. Die Sicherheitsvorkehrungen dort waren vergleichbar mit dem des Flughafens in Tel Aviv", erzählt James M. Dorsey, der an der Nanyang Technological University in Singapur …

Egypt One Year On: Stark Message for Arab Revolutionaries

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RSIS presents the following commentary Egypt One Year On: Stark Message for Arab  Revolutionaries 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, at  RSISPublication@ntu.edu.sg

No. 018/2012 dated 25 January 2012
Egypt One Year On:  Stark Message for Arab Revolutionaries
By James M. Dorsey

Synopsis This month's first anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak contains a stark  message for Egypt’s revolutionaries. They are being marginalised as vested interests  and traditional political forces experienced in political horse trading fill the vacuum  of leadership. This message may well also be meant for other revolutionaries in the Arab  world.
EGYPT’S MILITARY council, backed by Islamist and secular political parties, has  upstaged the 25 January celebrations of the anniversary of the protests that ousted  President H…

Islamists vow to one-up ultras with clean-up of Egyptian sports

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A Muslim Brotherhood perspective on soccer (Source: ikhwanweb.com)
By James M. Dorsey

Flush with victory in Egypt's first-post revolt election, Islamists are vowing to initiate change that militant soccer fans and youth groups have failed to achieve in a year of bloody street battles with security forces.

In doing so, the Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to distinguish itself from more militant Islamists, including more radical Salafis who propagating emulating life in the 7th century at the time of the Prophet and fundamentalist Egyptian and Saudi clerics as well as the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabab militia in Somalia or factions of the Taliban in Afghanistan who denounce soccer as a game of the infidels and as a distraction from the obligation to worship Allah.

The dichotomy of the Islamists striving to achieve the militant soccer fans' sports-related goals while the two sides face off on the streets of Cairo is vividly on display this week as Egypt celebrates the first annive…

Coca Cola ad becomes anthem of Tunisian national soccer team

By James M. Dorsey
With post-revolution Tunisia and Libya competing with new zeal in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, soft drink maker Coca Cola is successfully exploiting Tunisians’ passion for the beautiful game.
A Coca Cola short film that in the words of Tunis-based cultural anthropologist Rodney WJ Collins writing on LinkedIn is “not only a hymn to the (Tunisian) team for its qualification for the African Cup of Nations 2012 but a testimony to Tunisian Optimism, Pride, and Solidarity.” The film has gone viral on the web with more than 59,000 shares in the past week, according to media industry magazine Campaign.
The advertisement’s music has become the Tunisian national soccer team’s official anthem.
The ad, by advertising agency FP7 McCann Tunisia, featuring Tunisian musical and video group Sli Lemhaf, is as much an ode to Tunisians as it is to the soccer team a year after the ousting of President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali. It speaks of forgetting the fear, a reference to the barrier o…

Egypt suspends soccer matches in anticipation of protest anniversary clashes with ultras

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Ultras descend on Tahrir Square during November protests

By James M. Dorsey
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has delayed the 16th round of Premier League soccer matches in a bid to prevent the pitch from becoming an anti-military rallying point during this week’s celebrations of the eruption of protests a year ago that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The delay, a year after the EFA suspended professional soccer for three months in the walk-up to and aftermath of the ousting of Mr. Mubarak, is part of a concerted effort to reduce the risk of clashes between militant, violence prone soccer fans and security forces.
The military announced late Saturday that it had granted amnesty to 1,950 people, including activists and soccer fans detained during clashes in past months with security forces in a nother move designed to avert violence during the anniversary celebrations.
Matches will resume on January 27, two days after the celebrations on January 25, the first of 18 days of mass anti-…

Qatari doubts about alcohol boosted by unlikely allies: World Cup hosts Brazil and Russia

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To serve or not to serve?

By James M. Dorsey
With alcohol becoming a domestic political issue in the Gulf state of Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, Qatari officials are certainly taking heart from world soccer body FIFA’s battle with the non-Muslim hosts of the next two tournaments, Brazil and Russia, over the role of alcohol in the world’s largest sporting events.
That however may be premature. The outcome of FIFA’s dispute with Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup, and Russia where the tournament will be held in 2018, is certain to shape the soccer body’s certainly forthcoming debate with Qatar.
Unlike Qatar, which restricts the consumption and sale of alcohol on religious grounds, Brazil and Russia have outlawed its sale at sporting events in recent years in a bid to control crowds and prevents riots and violence.
With FIFA insisting in the words of its General Secretary Jerome Valcke that “alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup…that’s something we won’t negotiate” due to its …

Beitar Jerusalem Decries Israel Football Association Penalty for Racism

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Beitar fans unfurl the logo of assassinated extreme right wing Rabbi Meir Kahane's Jewish Defense Laugue

By James M. Dorsey
Troubled Beitar Jerusalem FC, the bad boy of Israeli soccer notorious for the racism and militant nationalism of its supporters, has denounced as “harsh, discriminatory and unsportsmanlike” the rejection by an Israeli Football Association (IFA) tribunal of its appeal against an earlier sentencing to a two-point deduction for behavior of its fans
In a statement, Beitar Jerusalem said that the rejection would not help the club’s management combat violence and racism and accused the IFA of wanting to harm Beitar.
The rejection by a three-judge panel comes as the club known for its right-wing anti-Palestinian politics and close ties to right-wing Israeli political leader is struggling to avoid relegation, seeking to shore up its bad boy image and raise funds with an initial public offering. It also comes at a time that the club is under attack for refusing to hire an…

Qatar pledges to adhere to international labour laws in walk-up to 2022 World Cup

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By James M. Dorsey
Qatar, with trade union leaders set for a second round of discussions with world soccer body FIFA about questionable labour conditions in the Gulf state, has vowed to ensure that contractors involved in preparations for the 2022 World Cup will adhere to international labour laws.
An official of the trade union, Building and Wood Workers International, said the unions were scheduled to meet again with FIFA in late January, as a follow-up to a meeting in November with FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA pledged after that meeting to help bolster the rights of migrant workers building World Cup infrastructure in Qatar in a bid to fend off a global trade union campaign that would denounce under the slogan, 'No World Cup in Qatar without labour rights,' the Gulf state as a slave driver. The unions have given FIFA six months to ensure that Qatar meets international labour standards.
Qatar is the first Middle Eastern state to have won the right to host the world’s larges…

Lebanese-Syrian soccer qualifier serves as barometer of troubled relations

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Syrian soccer kowtows to Assad regime

By James M. Dorsey
A recent Lebanese-Syrian Asia Cup qualifier serves as an ironic barometer of troubled relations between the two countries seeking to chart their individual futures as well as that of their uneasy relationship.
Soldiers armed with machine guns controlled the entrances to the Rafik Hariri Stadium where the match was being played in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon named after a prime minister who was assassinated in 2005 allegedly with tacit Syrian complicity if not active participation. A United Nations tribunal last year indicted four members of Syria’s foremost Lebanese ally, Shiite militia Hezbollah, on charges of killing Mr. Hariri in a massive car bombing. Both Syria and Hezbollah have repeatedly denied involvement in the death of Mr. Hariri.
The killing of Mr. Hariri sparked massive anti-Syrian demonstrations that forced Damascus to withdraw its troops after 30 years from Lebanon. It also paved the way for the formal establi…