Football in the Middle East:
State, Society, and the Beautiful Game
Lecture by Abdullah Al-Arian
Moderated by Bassam Haddad
Thursday, 29 September, 2022
12:00 PM EST
Cosponsored by the Schar School of Policy and Government, Arab Studies Institute, Center for Global Islamic Studies, Middle East and Islamic Studies Program at George Mason University
Far and away the most popular sport in the world, football has a special place in Middle Eastern societies, and for Middle Eastern states. With Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, this region has been cast into the global footballing spotlight, raising issues of geopolitical competition, consumer culture and social justice. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this talk examines the complex questions raised by the phenomenon of football as a significant cultural force in the Middle East, as well as its linkages to broader political and socioeconomic processes.
The establishment of football as a national sport offers significant insight into the region's historical experiences with colonialism and struggles for independence, as well as the sport's vital role in local and regional politics today-whether at the forefront of popular mobilizations, or as an instrument of authoritarian control. Football has also served as an arena of contestation in the formation of national identity, the struggle for gender equality, and the development of the media landscape. The twelve contributions to this volume draw on extensive engagement with the existing body of literature, and introduce original research questions that promise to open new directions for the study of football in the Middle East.
Purchase the book at Hurst Publishers here.
Abdullah Al-Arian is an associate professor of history at Georgetown University in Qatar. He is the author of Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat's Egypt (Oxford University Press) and the editor of Football in the Middle East: State, Society, and the Beautiful Game (Hurst/Oxford University Press). He is also co-editor of Jadaliyya’s Critical Currents in Islam page.
Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East and Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (Stanford University Press, 2011) and co-editor of A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2021). Bassam is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine and Executive Director of the Arab Studies Institute. He serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal and the Knowledge Production Project. He is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film, About Baghdad, and director of the acclaimed series Arabs and Terrorism. Bassam serves on the Board of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences and is Executive Producer of Status Audio Magazine and Director of the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI). He received MESA's Jere L. Bacharach Service Award in 2017 for his service to the profession. Currently, Bassam is working on his second Syria book titled Understanding the Syrian Tragedy: Regime, Opposition, Outsiders (forthcoming, Stanford University Press).