Episode 8, November 2022: “Geopolitical Goals” | Abdullah Al-Arian on Soccer in the Middle East

Dr. Abdullah Al-Arian of Georgetown University in Qatar discusses his new edited volume, Football in the Middle East: State, Society, and the Beautiful Game (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2022), with POMED’s Zachary White.

With the region’s first-ever World Cup about to kick off in Qatar, Al-Arian explains how regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have used soccer to advance their geopolitical interests. From purchasing European soccer clubs to hosting high-profile tournaments, MENA rulers exploit the sport to burnish their image and bolster their legitimacy. Al-Arian also describes how the region’s citizens use soccer to fight for their rights, from Egypt’s superfans helping to lead the country’s 2011 revolution to the Algerian Hirak adopting soccer chants in their mass protests.


This interview is part of POMED’s video series, “Between the Lines,” featuring interviews with authors of recent publications that explore rights and governance issues across the Middle East and North Africa. To be notified of future episodes, subscribe to POMED’s YouTube channel.