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Staunch Al-Sisi supporter calls for opening of stadia and dialogue with ultras

A staunch supporter of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has called on the government to allow football fans, a pillar of anti-government protest, back into stadia that have largely been closed to the public for nearly five years. Sawiri’s request on the eve of two African Confederation Cup semi-finals in Cairo in …

James Dorsey

Middle Eastern conflicts spill onto Spanish football pitch

Inevitably, the mass exodus of refugees from conflict areas was going to provoke the spilling into Europe of multiple disputes in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Spanish football is the first to feel the weight of the baggage that has turned vast numbers into destitute refugees. Kurdish rebels have accused a Syrian coach …

James Dorsey

Religious support for Qatari labour reforms puts Gulf states on the spot

  A panel in Doha of religious scholars, officials of Qatar’s government-sponsored human rights committee, and international labour activists has called on Qatar to radically alter its controversial labour policies. The call serves to support Qatari government promises of labour reform in response to World Cup-related international criticism, and increases moral pressures on Gulf states …

James Dorsey

Militant football fans are on a roll across Eurasia

Militant football fans are on a roll in the Middle East, Europe and Southeast Asia. Fans in Turkey and Egypt have defeated legal efforts to criminalise them as terrorists while Malaysian ultras are tackling corruption in and mismanagement of their country’s football association. In Germany, the pitch anticipated the government’s shift in policy towards the …

James Dorsey

Israel’s fault lines spill onto the football pitch

Israel’s multiple fault lines – secular vs religious, Jewish vs Palestine, and controversial calls for a boycott of the Jewish state – are exploding on the football pitch. The spill-over comes as President Reuven Rivlin warned in a recent speech that Israel was being fragmented by four tribes that view each other’s worldview as a …

James Dorsey

Turkish football supports Erdogan’s war against the Kurds

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF), in a demonstration of the inseparable ties between sports and politics, has effectively declared its support for renewed Turkish-Kurdish hostilities designed to enhance the prospects of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party in forthcoming snap elections. With armed Kurdish youth effectively taking control of at least one predominantly Kurdish city …

James Dorsey

Champions League: Malmo rescue tie against Celtic, Rapid lose to Shakhtar

Celtic was on course for a crucial first leg win in Glasgow with a two-goal lead, but a late strike means the momentum lies with Malmo. Rapid Vienna’s hopes of qualification have taken a blow with defeat to Shakhtar. An injury-time goal from Jo Inge Berget has kept Malmo’s dream of qualification alive despite losing 3-2 to Scottish champions Celtic.

Deutsche Welle

History answers the question: When will the EFA be held accountable?

It is the third consecutive time for Egypt to exit the qualifiers of African Cup of Nations. The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) has not been able to organise regular local tournaments. The last tournament it organised was the premier and Egypt cup, both held in 2015and throughout a period of nine months, despite the absence …

Daily News Egypt

Messi vs the world

It is widely known that there are two ways of stopping Argentine Lionel Messi, arguably the best soccer player in the world, from making a play: either put a German tank in front of him or hit him repeatedly on his legs. Since the first option is not allowed on a football field, it is …

Cesar Chelala

Israel and Palestine play high stakes football

Israel and Palestine are playing political football, with Palestinian football as the ball. It is a match which Israel is unlikely to win and that could prove to produce a bruising loss. The stakes for Israel‎ are far higher than for Palestine. Israel is effectively on probation as it seeks to definitively defeat Palestinian efforts to …

James Dorsey

Israel struggles with racist underground

Israel is struggling with how to deal with groups, some of which are underground, that are linked to a banned nationalist political party that has emerged at the core of recent racist, anti-Palestinian incidents and include a militant football fan group that was responsible for last month’s violent clashes during a Europa League qualifier in …

James Dorsey

The Cairo derby: Politics vs repression

This month’s premier league final between Cairo’s two storied clubs, Al-Ahly SC and Al-Zamalek SC, once the world’s most violent derby, was more than a clash between two football giants. It was a clash between management styles and diametrically opposed approaches towards militant, highly politicised, street battle-hardened football fans. The clash highlighted the advantages of …

James Dorsey