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Soccer: A Middle Eastern and North African Battlefield for Freedom and Dignity

In Susan Dun, Mo’tasem Kalaji and Marion Stell (eds.) It’s How the Game is Played, Perspectives on the Studies of Sports. Oxford, UK: Inter-Disciplinary Press 2013

Soccer for much of the past decades constituted the only major battleground that rivalled Islam in the creation of alternative public space in a swath of land stretching from the energy-rich Middle Eastern Gulf states to the Atlantic coast of Africa. Away from the glare of the international media, soccer provided a venue to release pent-up anger and frustration and struggle for political, gender, economic, social, ethnic and national rights. By the time the Arab revolt erupted in December 2010, soccer had emerged as a key non-religious, non-governmental institution capable of successfully confronting security force-dominated repressive regimes and militant Islamists.

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