Sport, Politics, and Society in the Middle East

Part of the Georgetown University, Center for International and Regional Studies, School of Foreign Service in Qatar series
August 2019 9781787381520 284pp


Sport in the Middle East has become a major issue in global affairs. The contributors to this timely volume discuss the intersection of political and cultural processes related to sport in the region. Eleven chapters trace the historical institutionalisation of sport and the role it has played in negotiating ‘Western’ culture. Sport is found to be a contested terrain where struggles are being fought over the inclusion of women, over competing definitions of national identity, over preserving social memory, and over press freedom. Also discussed are the implications of mega-sporting events for host countries, and how both elite sport policies and sports industries in the region are being shaped.

Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East draws on academic disciplines from the humanities and social sciences to offer in-depth, theoretically grounded, and richly empirical case studies. It employs diverse research methodologies, from ethnography and in-depth interviews to archival research, to make a lasting contribution to this critical subject.


‘[The book] contains a great deal of interest for both students of sport and students of the Middle East.’ — Times Higher Education

‘[Sports, Politics and Society in the Middle East] provides unprecedented insight [and] is essential reading for students not only of sports and/or media but also for those interested in International Affairs, politics and culture, related to the MENA region.’ — The Muslim World Book Review

‘This is a worthy read for students and scholars of comparative politics, sociology, and athletic studies.’ — CHOICE

‘A significant contribution to an as yet understudied but crucial aspect of the world’s most troubled region. This wide-ranging volume provides invaluable perspectives, as sports increasingly moves centre stage in the Middle East’s multiple conflicts.’ — James Dorsey, Senior Fellow at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, and author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

‘This groundbreaking volume offers ethnographically rich case studies highlighting the multiple, complex intersections between sports and other arenas in the Middle East: domestic and regional politics, business and economic investments, gender and family, youth culture, and education. This is a key contribution to the literature.’ — Andrea Stanton, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Denver

‘A must read for students and scholars interested in the study and examination of power dynamics around sport in the Middle East. This volume offers rich insights into everything from ethno-political dimensions, to gender and modernisation debates, to the business of sports.’ — Mahfoud Amara, Associate Professor in Sport Management and Policy, Qatar University

‘Looks beyond the headlines and explores the role of sports in general, and soccer in particular, in the evolution of the modern Middle East over the last century … a valuable contribution.’ — Bustan: The Middle East Book Review


Danyel Reiche is Associate Professor for Comparative Politics at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and author of Success and Failure of Countries at the Olympic Games.

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