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Kuwaiti rulers fight their internal battles on the sports field

Political infighting within Kuwait’s ruling family is about to take a dramatic turn with reports that the Gulf state plans to dissolve its national sports organisations in a blatant illustration of the incestuous relationship between sports and politics. The expected Kuwaiti move, part of an effort to sideline Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a member of …

James Dorsey

FIFA, human rights, and politics: one step forward, two steps back

World football body FIFA’s creation of a watchdog to monitor the living and working conditions of migrant labour employed in World Cup 2022-related construction sites is the second time in a month that Qatar has been warned that it needs to demonstrate sincerity in its reform of the Gulf state’s controversial labour system. The announcement …

James Dorsey

Amnesty International criticism returns Qatar to square one

A new report from Amnesty International slams Qatar for not living up to promises to improve workers’ rights and adds to growing international criticism of Qatar’s inability to properly implement adopted policies. World Cup host Qatar and FIFA are back to square one in terms of public diplomacy, with the Amnesty International report taking the …

James Dorsey

China’s Wanda new FIFA top sponsor

FIFA announced a new sponsorship deal with China’s Wanda Group, in a win for the newly elected president of world football’s governing body. The 14-year deal will give the Chinese top sponsorship rights.

Deutsche Welle

Bahraini’s soccer defeat: A cautionary tale for autocrats

  A failed election campaign for the presidency of world soccer body FIFA by Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa has further tarnished the image of his native Bahrain as well as his own reputation. It holds a cautionary tale for Middle Eastern, North African, and other autocrats who see sports as a way to project …

James Dorsey

Pressure builds on Sheikh Salman to respond to human rights allegations

Pressure is building on Asian Football Confederation president and world soccer body FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to respond with chapter and verse to allegations that he played a role in the detention and abuse of athletes during the 2011 popular uprising in his native Bahrain. The revolt was brutally squashed …

James Dorsey

Messi wins FIFA Ballon d’Or for fifth times

Messi is considered the best player in the world, and has been rated by many football experts as the greatest of all time. Messi is the only football player in history to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or five times, four of which he won consecutively in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Mohamed Farouk

Trade unions test Qatari sincerity with demands for labour reform

International trade unions have stepped up pressure on Qatar with a series of demands, a majority of which the Gulf state could implement, without having to reform its autocracy or threaten the privileged position of its citizens, who account for a mere 12% of the population. They fear the change could cost them control of …

James Dorsey

Bahraini players’ support for Salman raises more questions than answers

  In recent statements, Bahraini football players sought to absolve Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president and world football body FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, who is a member of Bahrain’s ruling family, of any moral or direct responsibility for the arrest, dismissal, and abuse of hundreds of sports executives and athletes accused …

James Dorsey