Showing posts from August, 2012

Soccer match to test Egypt’s shift from street to parliamentary politics

Egyptian military patrols soccer match (Source: Reuters) By James M. Dorsey Egypt is testing with a partial lifting of a ban on fans attending soccer matches whether the country after 18 months of political volatility, including violent protests before and after last year’s ousting of president Hosni Mubarak that led to the republic’s first free elections, has finally returned to a more peaceful resolution of political and moral issues. An interior ministry decision to allow a limited number of fans, who played a key role in the protests before and after the toppling of Mr. Mubarak constitutes a political victory for newly elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. The ministry has in recent week resisted calls for a resumption of professional soccer matches in the presence of fans by members of the Morsi government, including sports minister El-Amry Farouq, and the government appointed acting head of the Egyptian Football Association (EFA). The ministry suspended

FIFA investigates: World Cup host Qatar in the hot seat

                VS  By James M. Dorsey Three major investigations into corruption in global soccer are putting the credibility of major soccer associations and World Cup 2022 host Qatar to the test and could challenge the Gulf state’s successful bid as well as a massive Asian soccer rights contract. World soccer body FIFA’s newly-appointed corruption investigator Michael Garcia announced this week that he would investigate the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar as well as the 2018 tournament to Russia. FIFA Independent Governance Committee head Mark Pieth concluded earlier that the awarding of two the events had been “insufficiently investigated." Allegations of impropriety in the awarding of the two events at the same FIFA executive committee meeting in December 2010 persist fuelled by the demise of FIFA vice president and Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, who stands accused of co

Egyptian politics after Mubarak - JMD on CNA

Egyptian politics after Mubarak A year after former Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak was ousted, unhappiness remains widespread as Egyptians continue to protest against the slow reforms under the military rule.Recent bouts of violence in the country have raised questions about its path to democracy. Dr Fahed Al-Sumait, Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute and Mr James Dorsey from S Rajaratnam School of International Studies with more insight.

The Arab Revolts: Impact on Central Asia

RSIS presents the following commentary The Arab Revolts: Impact on Central Asia by James M. Dorsey. It is also available online at this link . (To print it, click on this link .). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at No. 161/2012 dated 27 August 2012 The Arab Revolts: Impact on Central Asia   By James M. Dorsey         Synopsis The rise of Islamist forces in the complicated post-revolt transition in the Middle East and North Africa may have an impact on post-Soviet states in Central Asia, that are still struggling with transition to democracy or have yet to experience popular revolts. Commentary Two years ago, the scenes in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek resembled those in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the last 18 months. Mass anti-government protests demanding an end to autocratic rule toppled the country’s ruler despite attempts by security forces to squash them. The prot

Reinstituting Egypt’s Premier League: A Political Tug of War

Port Said riot: 74 dead (Source: Reuters) By James M. Dorsey Egyptian security authorities, reluctant to lift a seven-month old ban on professional soccer, are considering testing the waters by allowing a limited number of fans to attend a closed door African championship match scheduled to be played in Cairo next month. The move would constitute a small victory for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in his tug of war with the country’s security establishment. Mr. Morsi recently scored an important win by changing the top guard of the armed forces and successfully grabbing executive and legislative power from the military. The battle for the lifting of the ban on professional soccer that has financially hurt the football industry severely and allowing fans back into the stadium is a litmus test of Mr. Morsi’s ability to impose his will on the unreformed interior ministry and its police and security forces, the country’s most distrusted institution because of its

Identity politics shape Middle Eastern and North African soccer

Hany Ramzy: The exception that confirms the rule By James M. Dorsey Hany Ramzy returned to Egypt from this month’s London Olympics a soccer hero and a model in a country and a region in which identity politics rather national identity often governs the beautiful game. A Coptic Christian and one-time legendary national soccer team captain in a squad whose former national coach Hassan Shehata established Muslim piety as a criterion for membership equal to skill, Mr. Ramzy, the coach of Egypt’s Olympic soccer team, symbolizes what is possible as well as the immense problems Middle Eastern and North African nations have in coming to grips with their ethnic and religious minorities. Popular uprisings in the past year in countries like Syria and Bahrain have turned sectarian as are protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and the fallout of the insurgency in Syria in neighbouring countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq that have sectarian or ethnic overtones

Soccer weaves a thread through Syrian rebels and Assad forces

Fawwaz al Assad's soccer club website: Bashar without the thugs By James M. Dorsey Soccer, never distant from Middle Eastern politics, weaves its own thread through the brutal battle for the future of Syria, wracked by the Arab world’s most protracted and most bloody revolt against autocratic rule to date. If Syrian nation youth team goalkeeper Abdelbasset Saroot symbolized for much of the past 17 months the resilience of peaceful protest in the besieged and battered city of Homs, soccer similarly goes to the heart of the shabiha, the irregular, civilian-clad, armed groups blamed for many of the atrocities believed to have been committed by forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In a fascinating account of the history of the shabiha, whose designation derives from the Arabic word for ghost, Syrian Comment , traces the origins of these criminals to members of the Assad family as well as young, desolate Alawites in northern Syria who saw their e

The Arab Spring Revisited: From Mass Protests to Local Revolts

RSIS presents the following commentary The Arab Spring Revisited: From Mass Protests to Local Revolts by James M. Dorsey. It is also available online at this link . (To print it, click on this link .). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at No. 156/2012 dated 16 August 2012 The Arab Spring Revisited: From Mass Protests to Local Revolts   By James M. Dorsey        Synopsis The push for change in the Middle East and North Africa, dominated by the bloody civil war in Syria, has morphed from mass anti-government protests in the capitals into a wave of smaller, political and socio-economic protests often in the outlying towns, that could lead to a second round of anti-regime demonstrations in countries that have so far managed to control widespread discontent. Commentary Televised pictures of mass demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as well as in Tunis, Tripoli and Sana’a have been repla

Can football unite Muslims and Christians in Egypt?

By Mustafa Abdulhalim During the 2012 London Summer Olympics each country cheered for the success of their athletes, but in Egypt this hope went beyond simply winning. For a country with many societal divides, sports – particularly football – can strengthen social cohesion and national identity.  Egypt’s participation in the Olympics could not be more symbolic of the role sports plays as a means to regain national pride and social unity. Egypt’s Olympic football team was coached by Hani Ramzy, the Coptic Christian player who led Egypt to victory in the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations championship. Despite divisions between Egyptians that have been evident in recent sectarian clashes in many parts of the country, there was unanimous support for the country’s Olympic team. Although Ramzy is the only Coptic Christian on the team, Egyptians praised his work and his team, especially after Egypt qualified for the Olympic quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Belarus.  Football clubs are spre

Turkish soccer club pioneers new funding strategy

By James M. Dorsey A top football club from the Turkish hinterland is cementing the Turkey’s economic shift away from the commercial capital of Istanbul to the Anatolian inland with plans to increase revenue by building a hydroelectric power station in a country with growing energy demand and no oil or gas reserves of its own. Trabzonspor, which is competing in this year’s UEFA Europa League, has added power to funding strategy that traditionally depended on ticket sales and the merchandising of club shirts and scarves The innovative strategy was developed in advance of the European soccer body’s imposition in 2014 of financial fair play rules that will bar clubs from being funded by wealthy owners, according to the Financial Times. The project could well spark other major European clubs to think out of the box about how they will fund themselves once the new UEFA rules kick in and merchandising and sponsorship prove insufficient, particularly for the purchase of h

Desert Growth: Football in the UAE

Desert Growth: Football in the UAE By John Ray A camera pans over a half empty and fully solemn Old Trafford. Mother’s are talking to their kids, lone men are checking their blackberries, and half time is drawing to a close. The Emiratis and Uruguayans jog out in their respective red and black and blue and white kits. The South American side is replenish with top European talents; Edinson Cavani, Luis Saurez, and Gaston Ramirez all hail from the small landlocked country on the River Plate. Cavani in particular has been tagged by Aurelio de Laurentis, the president of his club, Napoli, as the 100 million Euro man. That exorbitant number would far exceed the market price of the Emiratis, whose team is largely composed of unknown variables, hidden by the limited extent of scouting networks in the desert. In the middle of Old Trafford, their captain, number 10 Ismail Matar, receives the ball with elegance, places the ball on his right foot, looks at the oncoming keeper, slides t