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Football deaths raise stakes for Egypt’s general-turned-president Al-Sisi

By James M. Dorsey The death of at least 40 militants, highly politicised, and street battle-hardened Egyptian football fans in clashes with security forces raises the stakes for General-turned-President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s efforts to suppress political dissent. The incident is one of the worst in Egyptian sporting history and the latest in a number of …

Daily News Egypt

Keen to project a progressive image, the UAE picks its battles

By James M. Dorsey Projecting an image of being politically and culturally on the cutting edge, the United Arab Emirates carefully picks its battles. Participation in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has projected the United Arab Emirates as a military force to be reckoned with. Football is the …

Daily News Egypt

Qatar asks for time to implement labour reforms

By James M. Dorsey Qatari sports executives, in a bid to refute calls for depriving Qatar of its 2022 World Cup hosting rights, have asked their human rights and trade union critics as well as world football body FIFA to give them more time to address criticism of the Gulf state’s kafala or sponsorship system …

Daily News Egypt

Egypt appoints controversial UAE hired gun as elections monitor

By James M. Dorsey Egyptian-general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s efforts to lend legitimacy to parliamentary elections scheduled for this spring have gotten off to a murky start with the appointment of a controversial, reportedly United Arab Emirates-backed, human rights NGO as one of five foreign election monitors. The appointment of Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) alongside four …

Daily News Egypt

AFC official ‘happy’ to bar women spectators from stadia

By James M. Dorsey The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has dropped any pretention of standing up for universal standards for equality in sports by endorsing bans on women attending football matches in stadia. In doing so, the AFC has confirmed policies adopted by the Asian group, as well as world football body FIFA, that effectively …

Daily News Egypt

Turkish football: Illiberal President Erdogan’s latest victim

By James M. Dorsey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s illiberal policies have targeted the media, the judiciary, the police, militant football fans, and anti-government protesters. Now they threaten to claim yet another victim: the game of football itself. In a major blow to troubled Turkish football, Yildiz Holding, a conservative conglomerate known for its confectionary and biscuit business and …

Daily News Egypt

Deaths in Paris: Separating fact from fiction

By James M. Dorsey The attacks in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, as well as two French police officers, have prompted analysts and the media to often jump to hasty conclusions. Terms such as intelligence failure and Al-Qaeda are liberally employed with no clear definition of what they mean …

Daily News Egypt

Deaths in Paris: Refining the post-9/11 model

By James M. Dorsey Just like Al-Qaeda’s audacious attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington on 11 September 2001, the raid by suspected jihadist militants in Paris on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo will have far-reaching repercussions on multiculturalism. The pursuit of multiculturalism was an attempt by …

Daily News Egypt

GCC abandonment of unified labour contract puts onus on Qatar

By James M. Dorsey A decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to abandon plans to adopt a unified contract for domestic workers increases pressure on Qatar to significantly revamp its controversial labour regime in a bid to fend off efforts to deprive it of its right to host the 2022 World Cup. It also …

Daily News Egypt

A vote for Prince Ali is a likely vote for change – and for challenge

By James M. Dorsey FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein’s announcement that he will challenge the world football body’s four-time president Sepp Blatter in elections later this year has definitively turned the poll into a battle for the group’s future. A vote for the prince is at least a vote against the FIFA president …

Daily News Egypt

Setting benchmark in battle for statehood: Palestine in Asian Cup

By James M. Dorsey Palestine has set a new benchmark for nations like the Kurds and the Kosovars, who see football as a key part of their toolbox to achieve statehood, with its qualification for this month’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup even if the Palestinian road to statehood is increasingly pockmarked by seemingly …

Daily News Egypt

Qatar gambles that labour reforms will satisfy critics

By James M. Dorsey 2022 World Cup host Qatar has announced a series of reforms to improve working and living conditions of its majority migrant labour population that address material concerns, but fall short of recommendations made in a government-sponsored study and demands of trade union and human rights activists. The litmus test for Qatar’s …

Daily News Egypt

Gulf-Iranian proxy war spills onto football pitch

By James M. Dorsey A Saudi-led proxy war against Iran playing out in Syria and Iraq has expanded onto the football pitch with a last minute decision by the Palestinian national team to cancel a friendly against Iran. The cancellation, officially on technical grounds, came barely two weeks before Iran meets two of its Gulf nemeses, the …

Daily News Egypt

Potential UK club acquisition could help Qatar polish its image

By James M. Dorsey Qatar has booked two recent successes in what has become an uphill struggle to improve its tarnished image: a papering over of its rift with Saudi Arabia and the UAE sparked by Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and reports that it may be interested in acquiring London Premier League club …

Daily News Egypt

From Syria and Iraq to Iran: Kurdish minorities push for autonomy

By James M. Dorsey More than three years into Syria’s brutal civil war, Syrian Kurds have carved out an entity of their own close to the border with Turkey. Their battle against Islamic State (IS), the jihadist group that has conquered chunks of Syria and Iraq, for Kobani, a stone’s throw from the Syrian-Turkish border, symbolises …

Daily News Egypt

Government and fans battle in court and on the pitch in Egypt and Turkey

By James M. Dorsey Egyptian and Turkish football pitches are set to re-emerge as battlegrounds between militant, street battle-hardened fans and authoritarian leaders in a life and death struggle that involves legal proceedings to brand the supporters as terrorists and efforts to undermine their widespread popular base. Egyptian fans, barely a week after storming a …

Daily News Egypt

Angry Saudi football clubs pinpoint Gulf labour market contradictions

By James M. Dorsey Mounting anger among Saudi football clubs at their subjugation to quotas designed to encourage employment of Saudi nationals and reduce dependence on foreign labour illustrates problems encountered by wealthy Gulf countries in balancing the contradictory demands of labour markets, often lopsided demographics, social contracts involving a cradle-to-grave welfare state that creates …

Daily News Egypt

Likely Qatar deportation of striking workers raises concerns

By James M. Dorsey Qatar is signalling the rejection of demands of human rights and trade union activists to grant trade union and collective bargaining rights to its majority migrant worker population with the detention and likely deportation of more than 100 predominantly South Asian labourers who went on strike to protest low pay as …

Daily News Egypt

Activists expand labour and human rights campaign beyond Qatar

By James M. Dorsey Human rights groups and trade unions have stepped up pressure on Qatar to reform its restrictive labour system, and have expanded their campaign to include all six wealthy members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The activists hope that Qatar may move quicker on promised reforms, given that the integrity of …

Daily News Egypt

Gulf football diplomacy highlights regional divisions

By James M. Dorsey Wealthy Gulf states have invited Jordan and Morocco to compete in future Gulf Cups as part of a bid to strengthen their fragile six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at a time that they have at best papered over deep rifts within the group. The invitation follows an earlier stalled attempt to …

Daily News Egypt

Moroccan refusal to host African Cup rooted in fear and prejudice

By James M. Dorsey Morocco’s refusal to host next month’s 2014 African Cup of Nations football tournament out of fear that it could import the Ebola virus from West Africa spotlights complex relations between the continent’s Arab and sub-Saharan nations as well as the non-transparent inner workings of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a …

Daily News Egypt

Sponsorship of FIFA: a new front in Gulf political rivalry

By James M. Dorsey Lurking in the background of world football body FIFA’s talks with Qatar Airways to replace its Dubai rival Emirates as a sponsor is the escalating hostility between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as a result of their divergent attitudes towards political Islam. Officially, Emirates’ decision to end its $200m relationship …

Daily News Egypt

School shootings and lone wolf attacks: What’s the difference?

By James M. Dorsey A recent school shooting in the US state of Washington and a lone wolf’s assault on the Canadian parliament in Ottawa are but two of the latest headline-grabbing incidents of home-grown violence. One had nothing to do with politics, the other is classified as a terrorist attack perpetrated by a jihadist …

Daily News Egypt

Kurdish football team sparks Swedish FA ire over battle for Kobani

By James M. Dorsey When Ramazan Kizil established Dalkurd FF, one of Europe’s most successful immigrant football teams, in a remote town in northern Sweden, he dreamt of one day raising the Swedish and the Kurdish flag alongside one another in a European championship. These days, Kizil’s goals are more immediate: aiding embattled Kurdish fighters …

Daily News Egypt

Mounting Israeli-Palestinian tensions reverberate on the football pitch

By James M. Dorsey Mounting tension between Israel and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem have spilt onto Israeli Palestinian football pitches in Israel proper as Israel swings towards ultra-nationalists that make Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu look like the best card in a bad hand. Israeli human rights and legal advocacy …

Daily News Egypt