The Mideast and Abroad
- Published on Sunday, 21 April 2013 00:00
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) hopes to raise at least $17 million in an auction this week of the premier league’s television broadcast rights for clubs financially strapped by two years of political strife that has seen soccer suspended for much of that period and fans banned from attending matches.
Egypt’s Satellite Broadcasting Commission headed by the chairman of crowned Cairo club Al Zamalek SC, Mamduh Abbas, has set EGP 120 million ($17.3 million) as the starting price of the auction that does not include radio broadcast rights and gives the winner the ability to parcel out segments of the league to different broadcasters.
- Published on Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00
International trade unions have called on world soccer body FIFA to deprive Qatar of its right to host the 2022 World Cup because it has failed to end what they term 21st century slavery and adopt international labor standards for the Gulf state’s more than one million foreign workers.
In a letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter dated April 16, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary Sharan Burrow asserted that discussions with Qatari authorities since FIFA awarded Qatar the World Cup in a controversial December 2010 vote have produced no results.
Ms Burrow said the ITUC had obtained a copy of a Charter for Migrant Workers that was drafted by Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee. She said the trade union was disappointed by the drafting process in which the committee failed to consult unions as well as its content. Sources said the draft charter was continuously being revised.
- Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 00:00
Sixty-five years ago it was far from obvious that Israel would survive; it was even far from obvious that a Jewish state would be created in the first place.
In 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted for a resolution calling for the division of British-controlled Palestine into two states — one of which would be a Jewish state and one of which would be predominantly Palestinian. Specifically, Palestine would be divided into seven sections, three Jewish and four Arab, with Jerusalem placed under international administration. Jewish representatives accepted the deal; however, both the Arab League as well as the Palestinian organizations rejected the plan.
In the same year, I attended a most remarkable meeting. I was quite aware that I was only invited because I was a member of Mapai (labor party). And, those who convened the meeting wanted to have “someone young” because “after all, it was their future we will be discussing.”
- Published on Monday, 15 April 2013 00:00
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), struggling to restore credibility after two scandal-riddled years involving allegations of financial mismanagement and corruption, has had a foretaste of questions and issues that are likely to be raised if Bahrain Football Association head Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa , widely viewed as a frontrunner, wins the group’s May 2 presidential election.
Sheikh Salman is one of four candidates running to replace Mohammed Bin Hammam, the disgraced and banned former president of the governing Asian soccer. Sheikh Salman lost to Mr. Bin Hammam four years ago in a bitter election campaign and is the only current candidate who is not associated with the Qatari national.
- Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 00:00
Egyptian authorities have expanded the ban on fans attending matches to include international as well as domestic games in a bid to prevent violence that is likely to backfire and spark renewed incidents in a country that is reeling from economic decline, widespread discontent and lack of confidence in the government and law enforcement.
Sports minister Al-Emary Farouq announced the ban from international matches following incidents in African championship games involving crowned Cairo clubs Al Ahli and Al Zamalek SC as well as Ismaili SC.
The ban is certain to upset militant, highly politicized, street battle-hardened fans or ultras divided over verdicts announced in January and last month in the trial against those responsible for the death last year of 74 Al Ahli fans in a politically loaded brawl in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, and opposed to the already existing barring of supporters from recently restarted domestic matches.
- Published on Friday, 05 April 2013 00:00
State-owned Qatari television network Al Jazeera is exploring the acquisition of Spain’s La Liga premier soccer league rights in a bid to expand its budding global sports franchise, tweak its business model in a world in which pan-Arab television is on the decline and compensate for mounting criticism of its coverage of popular revolts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Al Jazeera’s renewed interest in Spanish rights comes as financially troubled Spain’s two major sports broadcasters, Mediapro and Canal Plus, which is owned by Grupo Prisa, are struggling under a mountain of debt. It also follows a breakdown in talks with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, according to Spanish news website El Confidencial Digital.
Grupo Prisa with debts estimated at €3 billion and Mediapro with liabilities of €300 million hinted last year that they would not bid at current rates for the Spanish league rights when the broadcast contract expires in 2016.
- Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 10:00
The Gulf states dominate headlines with Qatar’s controversial hosting of a World Cup and the high profile acquisition of European soccer teams, but they may be meeting their match in an emerging competition for being the Middle East and North Africa’s prime sports, transportation and economic hub.
Turkey may not have the Gulf’s financial muscle, but on virtually every other front it brings assets to the table that smaller oil-rich states lack: geographic and demographic depth; a soccer-crazy population that fills stadium; storied, internationally accomplished and recognized clubs; a respectable international track record in a variety of other sports, including basketball and volleyball; ethnic, cultural and ex-colonial links across a swath of land stretching from China to the Atlantic coast of Africa; a functioning democracy with all its warts that many see as a model for the Muslim world; a highly developed educational sector; one of the world’s largest standing armies; and a state-of-the-art industrial base that drives on indigenous labor.
- Published on Monday, 01 April 2013 00:00
Normally, we reserve Mondays for our “Music Monday” feature piece. And, I'm not one to turn my sections here into a soap box for my cultural grievances and political rants; to me, that's just bad journalism. But you know what else is bad journalism? Standing by silently in the face of hypocrisy against your fellow artists. Especially when you have access to a media platform that lets you do otherwise.
So, this isn't exactly a music article. But in the larger context of dummy governments, ventriloquist dictators parading as supposed presidents and how all that goes down in terms of censoring artists, it is. Because all bets are off when you arrest not only the country's top satirist, but creatives of any kind while claiming to be a democracy. Maybe Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, played hooky from Leadership 101 the day he was supposed to get the handout on what constitutes a president. So here's a CliffsNotes version: a president is someone who plays fair, and if you want to play fair, you have to take whatever heat comes your way. Because throwing your critics in jail makes you the playground bully. Grow a thick skin, already!. You want to diffuse your national lampoon of a presidency? How about actually doing your job?
- Published on Friday, 29 March 2013 00:00
At the eleventh hour, Prime Minister Netanyahu hustled to put his coalition government together only two days before President Obama's visit to Israel. Undoubtedly, Netanyahu's last-ditch effort was prompted by his incontrovertible desire to be the sitting, rather than the caretaker, prime minister in his meeting with President Obama.
Being the political animal that he is, Netanyahu calculated that first he needed to remind Mr. Obama that he must deal with him for the next four years, stating: "I look forward to working with you over the next four years to make the alliance between our two countries even stronger." That is, if his coalition holds together, but then again Netanyahu is no stranger to wishful thinking.
He further calculated that since Obama wants to prevent another failure in his peace efforts, he will avoid locking horns with him again and instead settle for diplomatic niceties. Here is where Netanyahu was wrong.