Showing posts from February, 2013

AFC election-lineup: little real promise of badly needed reform

By James M. Dorsey
The line-up of contenders for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), promises everything but the wind of reform and change the group badly needs after almost two years of controversy and scandal that are still reverberating through the world of soccer.
With five days left to the March 3 deadline by which candidates have to announce themselves, the list of contenders so far reads like a cast of characters from a B-movie. In many ways, the line-up reflects a scandal-ridden world of questionable governance in global soccer in which officials project themselves as proponents of change, albeit change that does not fundamentally rock their comfortable boat.
The 46-member AFC is scheduled to elect its new president at an extraordinary congress on May 2 following the banning for life from involvement in professional soccer late last year by world soccer body FIFA of Mohammed Bin Hammam, the AFC’s most recent elected head.
Three of the five contenders - Y…

Militant Jerusalem fans challenge founding principle of Israeli foreign policy

Beitar fans insist that their club remain racially pure (Source: Reuters)
By James M. Dorsey
When militant supporters of right-wing soccer club Beitar Jerusalem last month vowed to keep their team pure in protest against the hiring of two Chechen Muslim players they went beyond what are usually accepted expressions of racism in Israel to unwittingly challenge a founding principle of Israeli foreign and defense policy coined by the country’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion: the need to ally Israel with non-Arab Muslim nations to compensate historically for the lack of and more recently uncertainty of its relations with Arab neighbors.
In doing so, they provoked a rare national outcry against the club’s racist policy – Beitar Jerusalem is the only top league club to have never hired a Palestinian player despite the fact that Palestinians rank among the country’s top performers – that in many ways reflected last month’s outcome of national elections and a growing awareness that Is…

Port Said unites key Egyptian government critics: workers and soccer fans

(Source: Fox News)
By James M. Dorsey
Military troops are protecting factories and government offices on the fifth day of a general strike in the Suez Canal city of Port Said that has brought together two groups with working class roots that played key roles in the toppling of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak: militant, highly politicized, street-battled hardened soccer fans and the labor movement.
Operating independently both groups constituted key centers of resistance to the repression of Mr. Mubarak’s regime during the years that preceded his downfall. The fans fought police and security forces in the stadiums in a battle for control of one of the country’s most crucial public spaces while workers in industrial towns like Mahalla organized strikes against Mr. Mubarak’s economic liberalization policy and corrupt and nepotistic privatization of state-owned assets.
Yet, it took perceptions of a majority of the population of Port Said, a city of 600,000 historically on the fron…

Soccer fans defy emergency rule, force work stoppage in Port Said

Protesters block government offices (Source: Al Jazeera)
By James M. Dorsey
Thousands of militant soccer fans, in an indication that emergency rule will not squash mass protests, blocked government buildings as part of a general strike in the Suez Canal city of Port Said that is at the center of mounting anger at the brutality of police and security forces and demands that those responsible for the death of more than 800 protesters since mass demonstrations erupted in Egypt two years ago and toppled president Hosni Mubarak be held accountable.
The protest that forced the closure of the port authority and disrupted rail and telecommunications services constitutes a reaffirmation of a deep-seated sense among residents that Port Said is being made a scapegoat for at best the failure by law enforcement to prevent and at worst to have instigated a politically loaded soccer brawl a year ago in which 74 fans were killed.
By targeting the port authority but stopping short of seeking to clos…

In Egypt, the kids are not all right (JMD quoted in The Washington Post)

David IgnatiusOpinion Writer In Egypt, the kids are not all rightText SizePrintE-mailReprints By , Saturday, February 16, 8:36 AM If you’re trying to understand the rampaging soccer fans who have become a political force in the new Egypt, you might consult Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel “A Clockwork Orange.” The book is about a chaotic future shaped by roving gangs of “droogs” (Burgess’s imaginary word for young male toughs). Led by Alex, the droogs get stoned on milk-and-drug cocktails and then commit brutal acts of what Burgess called “ultra-violence.”

Post-revolt Arab Transitions: Driven by Distrust and Inexperience

RSIS presents the following commentary Post-revolt Arab Transitions: Driven by  Distrust and Inexperience 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. 027/2013 dated 13 February 2013
Post-revolt Arab Transitions: Driven by Distrust and Inexperience

By James M. Dorsey


Post-revolt Middle Eastern and North African countries are struggling to 
manage the transition from autocratic to more transparent, accountable  societies. Increasingly prejudice, distrust and inexperience are proving to be  greater obstacles to a successful transition than resistance of vested interests  of former regimes or alleged Islamists.
POST-REVOLT Arab nations are experiencing tumultuous times. The  assassination of a prominent Tunisian opposition leader has sparked mass protests  against Islamists he…

Qatar announces planned migrant workers charter to fend off World Cup criticism

(Source: Construction Weekly)
By James M. Dorsey
Qatar, in a bid to fend off a possible move to deprive it of the right to host the 2022 World Cup because of its failure to adopt international standards for foreign workers, is drafting a charter for laborers involved in the construction of infrastructure related to the tournament.
The announcement of the planned charter by the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee comes amid a rare series of articles in Qatari media depicting workers’ difficulties and a call to offer laborers relief in part through sports.
It further follows a rare news conference in the Qatari capital Doha by Human Rights Watch in which it charged that the Gulf state had failed to live up to its promise to address the fundamental rights of foreign workers who account for about a third of the population in a country in which non-nationals are the majority as well as condemnatory statements by international trade union leaders.
"We are currently in the final stages of dra…