Showing posts from May, 2015

Qatar nervous amid threat to 2022 World Cup (JMD quoted in Financial Times)

Qatar nervous amid threat to 2022 World Cup Simeon Kerr in Dubai   Share   Author alerts   Print Clip   Comments ©AFP When Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, people flooded into the streets to celebrate a moment that saw the tiny gas-rich Gulf state elevated on to the global stage. Almost five years on, initial jubilation has mutated into subdued resignation at the rising tide of corruption claims against Doha’s bid and calls for greater protection for the labourers who will be building the stadiums and related infrastructure. The steady stream of criticism has now exploded into a dramatic threat to the Qatar World Cup after seven  Fifa  officials were arrested on corruption charges relating to a  US probe  into bribery and a Swiss criminal  investigation  into the awarding of the tournaments in 2018 to Russia and 2022 in Qatar. “Everyone is watching this very nervously,” said one Doha-based businessman. “It is clear that this is very serio

Qatar’s unintended sporting legacy: A FIFA clean-up, exposure of political corruption, and corporate sponsor rethink

By James M. Dorsey Qatar’s 2022 World Cup is promising to be a rare example of a mega sporting event that leaves a legacy of social, political and economic change – but not in the way the Gulf state’s ruling family had imagined. Controversy about Qatar’s successful bid coupled with world soccer body FIFA’s failure to seriously tackle corruption in soccer governance in its own house as well as its regional federations, prominent among which the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), led to this week’s unveiling of indictments against 14 senior current and past soccer FIFA executives and sports businessmen. The scandal goes to the heart of not only financial corruption but also the enabling environment of political corruption rooted in the political sway of political forces often aligned with autocratic governments like those of the Middle East within FIFA, the AFC and the Olympic Council of Asia. The scandal is compounded by mounting criticism of Qatar’s controversi

Middle East and North Africa: Forcing China to Revisit Long-standing Policies

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email: for feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentary, Yang Razali Kassim.  No. 125/2015 dated 25 May 2015 Middle East and North Africa: Forcing China to Revisit Long-standing Policies By James M. Dorsey Synopsis The fractious Middle East and North Africa is compelling China to rethink its long-standing principle of non-interventionism to protect its economic interests. It is also prompting it to articulate a Middle East policy that serves China’s interests without putting it at loggerhe

A shrewd financial investor, Qatar boasts dismal return on investment in soft power

By James M. Dorsey Widely viewed as a shrewd financial investor, Qatar’s return on investment in soft power designed to position it as a progressive ally of world powers in the hope that they will come to the aid of the wealthy Gulf state in times of emergency is proving to be abysmal. Qatar has invested billions of dollars in the building blocks of soft power that range from the hosting of multiple sporting events, foremost among which the 2022 World Cup; glitzy, high profile real estate in Western capitals; acquisition of icons of Western economies; Western and Islamic art; and bold foreign policy initiatives designed to aid governments in hostage situations and with contacts that they were not able to initiate or manage themselves. Yet, the payback in Qatar’s reputation, attitudes of law enforcement-related governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, including trade unions and human rights groups and the public, and media headlines has been everyt

Egypt’s targeting of football star may be a step too far (JMD quoted on Middle East Eye)

Egypt’s targeting of football star may be a step too far #EgyptTurmoil Seizing assets of iconic player Mohamed Aboutrika - Egypt’s most popular figure - could be a risky move in the ongoing government crackdown Egypt's Mohamed Aboutrika (L) vies with Ghana's Andre Ayew (R) during the Fifa World Cup 2014 qualifying football match Ghana vs Egypt, on October 16, 2013 at Baba Yara stadium in Kumasi. (AFP) Patrick Keddie Wednesday 20 May 2015 15:53 BST Last update:  Friday 22 May 2015 13:05 BST Topics:  EgyptTurmoil Tags:  Mohamed Aboutrika ,  Football ,  egypt ,  Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ,  Muslim Brotherhood ,  Al Ahly ,  Cairo , Zamalek Show comments When Mohamed Aboutrika walked off the pitch after his final game for Cairo club Al Ahly in their victorious 2013 African Champions League final, he was mobbed by players, fans, and even police officers. Everyone wanted to touch the midfield genius, who had a pench

Red card for the ultras (JMD quoted in The Economist)

Red card for the ultras The sport’s most volatile supporters are banned May 23rd 2015  |  CAIRO  |  From the print edition FOOTBALL, like politics, arouses strong passions in Egypt. Bring the two together and you get a combustible mixture. Add police brutality and you get the explosive atmosphere of Egypt’s football league. Rivalries between opposing clubs are heated. The league was cancelled in 2012 after a brawl at a match in Port Said left 74 dead. (Play was suspended the next year, too.) But the animosity between Egypt’s hard-core fans, known as “ultras”, and the authorities—who share blame for the Port Said violence—is even fiercer. Matches are now played behind closed doors, without fans, to avoid incidents. On May 16th a court in Cairo tried to stamp out any remaining embers by banning ultra groups. In this section The caliphate strikes back Red card for the ultras Contra mundum Outstaying their welcome Good coup, bad coup Risk on Reprints The