Game Over Chapter 2: Soccer and the Arab Spring

Critical Response Blog – Arab Spring Chapter

Well this entire chapter was to me the definition of “jarring”. Both the section on the Ultra’s – which I knew basically nothing about going into the chapter – and the Bahrain section which presented a different aspect of the situation in this country that I was unaware of. For the purpose of this blog I will be writing about the Bahrain half of the chapter.

“The suspension falls under misconduct, and the breaching of the rules and regulations of sporting clubs…not to engage in political affairs.”

The above quote was the response from the Bahrain Football Association in regards to the punishments that the Hubail brothers, A’ala and Mohamed who both play for Bahrain’s national team, received after being part of the 2011 demonstrations which involved hundreds of thousands of Bahrainis –both of whom went to help the wounded protesters as A’ala was a certified paramedic and EMT. The Hubail brothers shortly after were indefinitely arrested and tortured. As well, Zirin notes that 200 other athletes were suspended, some of which were also tortured.

This article was very interesting but also disturbing and made me think about the politics and sport argument. It is scary to think about living in that type of environment and to picture it as if we were in that situation here in Canada or North America – as extreme as that may sound. It does bring up the question though; can politics really be kept out of sport?

If an issue affects an athlete, they should have every right to take their own stance and stand behind it. Since sport is their livelihood and platform, there is no other way for them to do so than on a bigger stage than most others would receive. If the athlete is willing to accept the repercussions, whether it is in the form of losing a sponsorship as has been mentioned before or the extreme of imprisonment, they should be allowed to. That decision should solely be in the hands of the athlete, not the fans who watch sport for purely entertainment or those who govern it. At least that is my opinion and I personally do not think it is fair to ask someone to not take a stance or respond to something publicly that affects them personally, especially when it is their best weapon or tool to use against it.

While I do understand the arguments and agree with some against politics in sport, I’ve always found it hard to take the opposite side in the debate.

Zirin, D. (2013). Game over: how politics has turned the sports world upside down. (pp. 34-49). New York, NY: The New Press.

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One Response to Game Over Chapter 2: Soccer and the Arab Spring

  1. jpecchia92 says:

    Great post! With reading this chapter it does show the extremes of situations across the world that we here in Canada rarely ever see. I think that since taking courses like this one and doing readings about global sport situations I have realized how intertwined sport is with politics. If you look at the general example of an owner of a hockey team threatening to move the team if they do not get public funding, politicians have almost no choice but to give in to them. If they don’t then they simply don’t receive the votes to stay in power. I feel like sport has lost it’s identity to politics because the people who run sports teams and leagues strive for power, which happens to be what politicians strive for as well… But in terms of athletes choosing stand for something they believe in I think your opinion is totally correct, their field or game is the best and sometimes only way for them to demonstrate their cause despite the consequences they face.

    Marked – SE

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