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Showing posts from March, 2012

Storm in a headscarf: FIFA was wrong to ban hijabs in soccer

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By Nasya Bahfen
Five years after ruling against the wearing of headscarves by female football players, the sport’s world governing body FIFA has taken initial steps to lift the hijab ban. In March 2012, the International Football Association Board (FIFA’s rule-making arm), voted unanimously to allow the testing of specially…


Iranian soccer players cry after FIFA cancels their match due to the nature of their headware. EPA
Five years after ruling against the wearing of headscarves by female football players, the sport’s world governing body FIFA has taken initial steps to lift the hijab ban. In March 2012, the International Football Association Board (FIFA’s rule-making arm), voted unanimously to allow the testing of specially designed head coverings for the next four months.
While this is cause for celebration, the ban should never have been imposed in the first place. Ostensibly, it was about safety, with FIFA concerned that pins used to hold the scarves in place posed a hazard to the pl…

Middle East looms large at FIFA Executive Committee meeting

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By James M. Dorsey
The Middle East and North Africa loom large as FIFA's executive committee meets in Zurich this week against the backdrop of a call for sweeping reforms of the world soccer body that would involve investigating Qatar’s successful but controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup, lethal violence and blatant political interference in Egyptian soccer and progress in advancing women's rights.
The call for an investigation of Qatar is believed to be one recommendation in a report by FIFA’s governance committee headed by Swiss lawyer and criminology professor Mark Pieth. The committee was created last year to propose reforms in the wake of the worst corruption scandal in the world soccer body’s 108-year old history.
Qatari national and FIFA vice president Mohammed Bin Hammam was last year banned for life from involvement in professional soccer on charges of bribery and corruption. Mr. Bin Hammam, who has denied the allegations and is fighting the ban, was the highest…

Expert says Iran to hit back at Gulf States, if attacked by U.S. or Israel (JMD)

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Expert says Iran to hit back at Gulf States, if attacked by U.S. or Israel28 March 2012, 10:58 (GMT+05:00) Azerbaijan, Baku, March 27 /Trend S.Isayev/

If either Israel or the US were to attack Iran, the Islamic republic's response could well involve Iranian strikes against Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, James M. Dorsey told Trend.

"Iran has threatened in the past to block the Strait of Hormuz but has refrained from doing so in a bid not to escalate tension and to avoid a military response," Dorsey added.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, warned North Korea and Iran that their options are few and their friends fewer as those nations refuse to back down from actions the world sees as menacing.

Israel accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and hasn't ruled out a military strike to head off further develop…

Collaboration with Mubarak costs Vodafone soccer sponsorship and fans

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Vodafone whitewash ad campaign backfires

By James M. Dorsey
Little did Vodafone’s Egypt unit know what it was bargaining for when it inked a three-year $9 million sponsorship deal with Al Ahly SC, Egypt and Africa’s most crowned soccer club, whose militant supporters were in the forefront of the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak and have since spearheaded opposition to his military successors.
What was designed as a marketing and public relations ploy to exploit the telecommunications provider’s association with an institution that evokes deep-seated emotions has instead landed Vodafone in hot water with Egyptian soccer fans as well as the European parliament. Adding insult to injury, Vodafone Egypt lost its chance to buy back some of its evaporated goodwill among soccer fans when it was outbid at the end of its sponsorship contract in late 2011 by the United Arab Emirates telecommunications company Etisalat.
Vodafone’s experience has become a case study as telecom ope…

Turkey's relationship with Iran goes far beyond oil - expert (JMD)

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Turkey's relationship with Iran goes far beyond oil - expert27 March 2012, 09:52 (GMT+05:00) Azerbaijan, Baku, March 27 /Trend S. Isayev/


For Turkey, unlike other buyers of Iranian oil, the relationship with Iran goes far beyond oil, given their proximity, the issue of the Kurds, Turkish dependency on Iranian national gas and the fallout of potential Israeli strike against Iran, Senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, James M. Dorsey told Trend.


About two weeks ago Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yildiz during his visit to Kuwait said that Turkey's dependence on Iranian oil supplies is greater than other European countries', so Turkey does not intend to give them up.


Yildiz noted that Turkey continues to purchase oil and natural gas from Iran, unless alternative sources are found.


"Indeed, Turkey like other countries needs to find alternative sources," Dorsey said. "I believe that …

Soccer fan attack on Palestinians sparks Israeli debate

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By James M. Dorsey
An initially under-reported attack by militant supporters of controversial Beitar Jerusalem Football Club known for their anti-Palestinian, anti-Ashkenazi Jewish attitudes on Palestinian shoppers and workers in a Jerusalem shopping mall and the Israeli police’s failure to intervene and arrest any the attackers has outraged many Israelis and is raising questions about the moral fiber of a society that tolerates such incidents as well as a soccer club that is unashamedly racist.
Police launched an investigation into the incident that was caught on security camera video only after the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported the assault and asked how Israel would have reacted if France had responded similarly to last week’s attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse in which four people, including three children, were killed. The alleged killer died in a shootout with police after an intense manhunt and a more than 30-hour siege.
“Those who fail to raise their voice now over…

Pitch is neutral zone for Syrians chasing Olympic dream (JMD quoted on DPA)

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Pitch is neutral zone for Syrians chasing Olympic dream Great Britain > Topnews24.03.2012 · Text/Pictures: By Marianne Brown, dpa / dpa Hanoi (dpa) - On the eve of one of the most important matches of their career, the Syrian football team are putting personal worries aside as they prepare to clear the Olympic play-offs in Vietnam. Rui Miguel De Almeida during the press conference. Picture: Luong Thai Linh Having secured second place in the group stages, the team face Oman on Sunday and Uzbekistan on Thursday in the last hurdle of the Asian qualifiers. The winner will go on to head-to-head with Senegal in Coventry, England in April for a place at the 2012 Olympic Games. As members of the team mill around the lobby of their plush Hanoi hotel looking pensive, the situation at home could not be more different. Human rights groups say a year of clashes between troops backed by President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces has left more than 9,100 people dead. Despite this, coach Rui Almeida say…

Egyptian soccer riots set to spread from Port Said to Cairo

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Al Masri soccer fans pray behind the coffin of a youth who was shot dead during clashes with security forces (Source: Reuters)

By James M. Dorsey
The battle for Egypt’s future was set to spill once again into the streets of Cairo following two days of battles between militant supporters of the embattled Al Masri SC soccer club of Port Said that sparked the closure of the city’s harbour and left one teenager dead and more than 100 people wounded.
The riots in Port Said coupled with plans for protests on Sunday by militant fans of crowned Cairo club AL Ahly SC in front of the headquarters of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) and an Al Ahly board meeting scheduled for Monday were prompted by the EFA’s controversial meting out of penalties for last month’s lethal clash between supporters of the two teams that left 74 people dead.
Al Ahly spokesman Gamal Gabr denounced the EFA ruling as “an invitation for more violence. We are back to square one…Ahli fans will never accept such a weak ve…

Egypt’s powder keg: Meting out punishment for Port Said

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Security forces all geared up - their failure to intervene raises questions

By James M. Dorsey
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) is struggling with how to penalize the Suez Canal town of Port Said’s soccer team Al Masri SC for a clash six weeks ago with supporters of crowned Cairo club Al Ahly SC in which 74 fans were killed in the worst incident in Egyptian sporting history.
The EFA’s dilemma is not simply one of satisfying demands for justice by Ultras Ahlawy, the militant Ahly support group, which suffered the greatest loss of life without provoking die hard Al Masri supporters but also goes to the heart of what really happened in Port Said.
Egyptian prime minister Kamel El-Ganzouri cautioned that Al Masri's punishment “should neither be lenient nor excessive," according to Egyptian media.
The EFA's dilemma is compounded by the fact that it is being managed by caretakers after the board appointed by ousted President Hosni Mubarak was summarily dismissed by the governm…

Conservative Saudi crown prince endorses female participation in Olympics

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Saudi Crown Prince Nayef: a liberal in disguise?
By James M. Dorsey
Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud has approved plans for the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom to send female athletes to the Olympics for the first time at the London Games in a move that counters fears that he would be a less progressive ruler than ailing King Abdullah, according to Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper.
In doing so, Prince Nayef, the kingdom’s long-serving interior minister who is widely viewed as a conservative even by Saudi standards and is closer than the king to the country’s powerful, austere Wahhabi clergy, is bowing to pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that threatened to bar Saudi Arabia from the London games if it failed to field female athletes.
The decision is likely to be welcomed by liberal Saudis who worry that once he succeeds  King Abdullah he will prove to be more susceptible to demands of the clergy who adhere to the teachings of the 18th century puritan war…