Showing posts from October, 2015

Turkish soccer offers Erdogan headaches instead of voters in walk-up to election

By James M. Dorsey
Turkish soccer has offered President Recep Tayyip Erdogan more headaches than likely votes as the Turkish leader battles to ensure that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) will secure a majority in snap parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Polls on the eve of the election predict that the AKP will increase its vote by six percent compared to the June election, enough to form a single-party government.
Mr. Erdogan, a former soccer player, called Sunday’s elections after his AKP failed to secure the necessary majority in elections last June to form a government of its own for a fourth time. The failure delayed Mr. Erdogan’s plans to make his presidency executive rather than ceremonial as it is currently envisioned in the Turkish constitution.
The rise of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) that won 13 percent of the vote in June deprived Mr. Erdogan and his AKP of a majority. A breakdown in peace talks with Kurdish guerrillas in southeast Tu…

FIFA ‘resistant to wholesale reforms’ (JMD in Today)

FIFA ‘resistant to wholesale reforms’ 1/2 FIFA needs major reforms, but chances are the changes will be minimal... [MORE] Award winning investigative journalist James Dorsey FIFA needs major reforms, but chances are the changes will be minimal... [MORE] Award winning investigative journalist James Dorsey Investigative reporter James Dorsey says preference for familiarity will give Sheikh Salman the edge in FIFA’s presidential election

New Qatari labour law: too little, too late

By James M. Dorsey
Never missing an opportunity to shoot itself in the foot, 2022 World Cup-host Qatar has adopted a new law that is more likely to convince critics that it aims to put a friendly face on its controversial kafala or sponsorship system rather than radically reform a legal framework that trade unions and human rights activists have dubbed modern slavery.
Qatar has been under pressure since winning in 2010 hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup to radically reform, if not abolish the sponsorship system that puts workers at the mercy of their employer. Requirements that employees obtain permission from their employer to switch jobs or travel abroad were among the main provisions of the sponsorship system targeted by activists.
The new law streamlines procedures but does not fundamentally change them. Under the new law, that although signed by Qatar’s ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, only takes effect a year from publication in the Gulf state’s official gazette,…

AFC Salman’s FIFA candidacy puts integrity checks to the test

By James M. Dorsey
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa’s candidacy for the presidency of world soccer body FIFA is likely to serve as a litmus test for newly introduced integrity checks on the group’s executives.
Sheikh Salman, a former soccer player, has consistently like other members of his ruling family refused to respond to allegations by human rights groups that he was associated with the detention and abuse of scores of sports executives and athletes, including national soccer team players, alleged to have participated in a 2011 popular uprising that was brutally squashed.
Sheikh Salman also played a key role in squashing a 2012 independent audit of AFC finances that raised serious questions about possible bribery, non-transparency, tax evasion, and sanctions busting in the awarding to Singapore-based World Sport Group (WSG) of a $1 billion master rights agreement.
The audit by a PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) that constituted the ba…

Why has Israel gone quiet over ISIS? (JMD quoted on Al Arabiya)

Why has Israel gone quiet over ISIS? Israeli officials have now noticeably diverted their attention to a surge in Israeli-Palestinian deadly violence. (File photo: AP) Text size AAA By Eman El-ShenawiAl Arabiya NewsSunday, 25 October 2015 In its first-ever video message in Hebrew, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has sent out a threat that “not one Jew will remain in Jerusalem,” amid recently escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions. 

But the video, released on Friday, has so far failed to attract official Israeli attention – in contrast to Israel’s previous persistent finger-pointing at ISIS.

Israeli officials have now noticeably diverted their attention to a deadly surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence, predominantly in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Have Israeli concerns over ISIS now taken a back seat? Overshadowing fears“For Israel, the escalation with the Palestinians has overshadowed its concerns over ISIS in neighboring Syria,” Lina Khatib, a London-based Senio…

Egyptian soccer fans put youth disillusion with elections on public display

By James M. Dorsey
As Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi struggled this week to get Egyptians to cast their vote in parliamentary elections, militant soccer fans put widespread youth disillusionment with the president’s autocratic rule on public display.
More than 10,000 fans rushed in response to a call by Ultras Ahlawy, the militant support group of storied Cairo club Al Ahli SC, to the Mokhtar al-Touch Stadium on election Sunday to watch their storied team train. It was the club’s first training since it last week won the Egyptian Super Cup.
Ultras Ahlawy issued the brief call on its Facebook page that has more than 1.1 million followers. Ultras Ahlawy together with other militant fan groups has played a key role in anti-government protests in the last 4.5 years starting with the 2011 popular revolt that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
Fan neglect of the election reflected a widespread sentiment among Egyptian youth expressed by a hashtag #badalmatantakhib o…

OECD holds FIFA responsible for Qatari World Cup-related labour conditions

By James M. Dorsey
A Swiss government-sponsored unit of the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has defined world soccer body FIFA as a multi-national bound by the group’s guidelines. As a result, the group concluded that FIFA is responsible for the upholding of the human and labour rights of workers employed in Qatar on 2022 World Cup-related projects.
The decision by the OECD, which groups 34 of the world’s richest countries, in response to a trade union complaint about the violation of workers’ rights, rejected FIFA’s argument that the soccer body was a non-profit group and an association under Swiss law rather than a corporation and its attempts to absolve itself of responsibility for sub-standard labour conditions on projects that fall under the group’s contract with Qatar.
In its complaint to the OECD, trade union Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) asserted that the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar violated OECD guidelines …

Israel suspends Israeli-Palestinian encounters on the pitch

By James M. Dorsey
The Israel Football Association (IFA) acting on orders of the police has suspended what it calls ‘sensitive’ matches, a reference to professional and amateur games between Israeli Jewish and Israeli Palestinian squads.
Police said the suspension on soccer pitches that have long signalled mounting tensions, violence, and racism in Israeli society was because their forces where stretched to the limit in attempting to prevent Palestinian lone wolf attacks on Israeli Jews.
The police and Israeli military have been accused in recent weeks of using excessive force, including shoot-to-kill, in their effort to counter mushrooming peaceful and violent protests in against Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Supporters of arch rivals Beitar Jerusalem, Israel’s most hard line anti-Palestinian club, and Bnei Sakhnin, the only Israeli Palestinian team in the premier league, hurled rocks at one another earlier this month. Last month, shots were fired when supporters of Maccab…