By Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek, Busta: ThE Middle East Book Review, Vol. 11:2
The politics of Middle Eastern sports has burst onto the international stage propelled by Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup and the role of militant soccer fans in the 2011 popular Arab revolts. Multiple other headline-grabbing events further focused attention on a hitherto-underreported and understudied key aspect of Middle Eastern politics and society. These included the acquisition by Gulf states of some of Europe's most celebrated football clubs, the eye-catching sponsorship of prestigious teams, fumbled Gulf attempts to play a more prominent role in international sports governance, and controversies over the questionable human and migrant workers' rights records of countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.