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The Middle East on the move

2011 has turned out to be a revolutionary year for the Middle East and other muslim countries. Not only within the political sphere where upheavals in several countries have led to regime changes and war-like situations but also in sport.

Play the Game has decided to take a closer look at the Middle East and the way in which sport plays a role politically by adding a Middle East theme to the Play the Game 2011 conference.

We call the theme:

The Middle East on the Move: Sport in the Arab world

Theme description:

What may have appeared a fata morgana has become tangible reality: The Middle East has entered the international sports arena as a player you have to count in. With Qatar as the most visible example, Arab governments have invested huge amounts in getting control over big sports events, mega-brands, clubs and international federations. Their money seems abundant, but their image is under dispute: What is the Arab elite aiming at, what are their visions for world sport?

Sport also plays a vibrant role in others spheres of the Arab societies. The stadium is not only a sports field, but also a platform with a potential for politics, and football crowds seem to have played a role in the recent political uprisings.

A particular challenge is the role of women in countries where Islam is the predominant religion: Are women covered by the term “Sport for all”?

In the run up to the conference you will find articles related to the Middle East in this page.

If you would like to make a contribution, please do not hesitate to contact Play the Game by sending an email to Stine Alvad

The theme page is launched with an article suite by Middle East expert James M. Dorsey fucusing on the Middle East, North African uprisings, politics and football.

Read the articles here:


Football Produces for Qatar PR Fiasco Rather than PR Boon

by James M. Dorsey
4 April 2011
Two major sports events in recent months were intended to anchor Qatar’s image as a global sports hub and demonstrate its mastery in hosting major sporting events. It didn’t quite work out that way.


Emboldened Fans Rewrite the Politics of Egyptian Football

by James M. Dorsey
28 March 2011
Egyptian football fans, emboldened by their role in protests that deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in office, are seeking to alter the politics of their country’s beautiful game.


Football Pitches: A battleground for North Africa's future

by James M. Dorsey
21 March 2011
Football matches are but one battle fought on the pitches of North Africa. The other is the struggle for the region's future.



Other news related to the Middle East theme

Mounting workers’ deaths increase pressure on Qatar, FIFA and Asian countries

21 February 2014

Qatar will have to face the critique of the working conditions under which many foreigners work in the country. This could bring out discussions about the very nature of Qatari politics and society, James M. Dorsey reports.[more]

Reports of deaths add pressure to improve conditions for foreign workers in Qatar. Photo: Shell/Flickr

Qatar’s love affair with France consummated with soccer

15 October 2012

French football team Paris Saint-Germain has recently signed a record sponsorship deal with Qatari National Bank. This deal is only a part in a long-term strategy designed by Qatar to forge national identity with sports as a...[more]

PSG owner Nasser al-Khelaifi (middle) recently recruited Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) to the team. Photo by Flickr user jeanfrancios_beausejour

Soccer meets politics at Doha’s Mohammed Abdul Wahhab Mosque

20 April 2012

Qatar’s increasing engagement in European soccer and international sport is just one leg in the small Gulf State’s high-risk attempts to position itself as a global player ‘on the right side of history’. But the accompanying...[more]

Mohammed Abdul Wahhab Mosque in Doha. Photo: Omar Chatriwala/Flickr

Middle Eastern buying spree changes European soccer landscape

13 April 2012

Alongside their successful bids for high profiled sports events, Qatar and other Gulf states are gaining an increasing influence in European football through their acquisition of European soccer clubs, broadcasting rights and...[more]

Qatar Foundation's sponsorship of FC Barcelona is an example of the increasing Middle Eastern involvement in European soccer. Photo: Christopher Johnson, Globalite/Flickr

Resignations deepen rift among Turkish Islamists and country’s soccer crisis

02 February 2012

The Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) three top managers have resigned in a move that appears to have deepened the rift between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey’s powerful Islamic Gulen movement as well as the...[more]

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey. Photo: Unaoc/Flickr

How football fuelled the Arab Spring

04 October 2011

Few people can be unaware that 2011 has been a momentous year for the many Arab nations. Successful uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and ongoing conflicts in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere have made headlines across...[more]

James M. Dorsey spoke about the role played by football supporters in uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere. Photo by Tine Harden.

The new power holders in world sport

05 May 2011

Analysis: Putin’s increasing influence in the Olympic world and the awarding of the FIFA World Cup to Russia and Qatar make it clear for everybody: Everything is for sale in the world of sport – and the worst is to be expected....[more]

Russian PM Putin has become a central figure in international sport, after having succeeded in getting several big sporting events to Russia. Photo (c) Jens Weinreich

Western countries are losing the race for major sporting events

04 May 2011

Non-Western countries are now hosting the majority of sport’s mega-events. The biggest events are leaving Europe and North America and challenging the West’s traditional dominance. Prestige and profile are the driving forces...[more]

The World Cup in South Africa was far from being a 'one-off' affair. The biggest mega-events go global. Photo: An artist's impression of the refurbished Soccer City Stadium(c) City of Johannesburg

Bahraini sport sends athletes to jail; IOC stays quiet, asking oppressors for advise

28 April 2011

The National Olympic Committee and various sports federations play an active role in the political oppression in Bahrain. Athletes are jailed, while the international federations remain silent, writes Christer Ahl.[more]

Bahraini athletes have been jailed and suspended for not being loyal to the government. Photo: Protesters in the streets of Bahrain by Flickr User Al Jazeera English used under a Creative Commons License 2.0

A Middle East Female Sports Revolution?

23 March 2011

Comment: Al-Jazeera has called the current uprisings in the Middle East a feminist revolution. The news channel also argues that women’s participation has made the protests more peaceful than they might have been otherwise. Could...[more]

Iranian players wearing jihab at the Singapore YOG despite a conflict with FIFA prior to the Games. Photo by Singapore Youth Olympic Games 2010 used under a Creative Commons License 2,0

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