POMEPS Studies 48: Politics of Sports in the Middle East

Following the 2022 World Cup, POMEPS partnered with Georgetown University-Qatar’s Center for International and Regional Studies—which has had a long-standing interest in studying sports and politics in the MENA region, and most recently completed a multiyear project on the World Cup—to bring together a group of scholars from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States to explore the deep interconnections between football and politics in the Middle East. We invited scholars from a wide range of perspectives, making sure to include contributions focused not only on the Arab world but also on Iran and Turkey. The essays in this collection offer a rich and varied window into these multidimensional politics, from the local to the global and from the historical to the contemporary.  They offer a tantalizing glimpse into the possibilities for future research.




Marc Lynch, George Washington University and Zahra Babar, Georgetown University-Qatar


Uniter or Divider? Identity Politics and Football in Jordan

Curtis R. Ryan, Appalachian State University


The “Bot-iful” Game: Football, Social Media Manipulation, and Transnational Gulf Politics

Marc Owen Jones, Hamad bin Khalifa University, Qatar


Football as a Platform for Ethnic Identity Assertion in Iran

Ehsan Kashfi, University of Alberta


The Rise of Gulf States’ Investments in Sports: Neither Soft Power nor Sportswashing? 

Majd Abuamer, Doha Institute: The Arab Center For Research and Policy Studies and Yara Nassar, Doha Institute: The Arab Center For Research and Policy Studies


Political Contestation around “Football in Cinema” Project in Iran

Nazanin Shahrokni, London School of Economics


Political Polarization and Football in Turkey

Sefa Secen, Syracuse University


Reclaim the Spectacle: Ultras Fandom and the Politics of the Sporting Event in Egypt

Ronnie Close, The American University in Cairo


Private Investment in Egyptian Football Clubs: A Case Study of Ghazl El-Mahalla FC’s Failed IPO

Saleh Mahmoud, The American University in Cairo


The Qatar World Cup and the New Islamic Approach to Football in the Middle East

Dag Tuastad, University of Oslo


The Role of Football in Preserving National Identity in the Arab World

Eman Demerdash, Cairo University


Beyond the Game: The Politics of Palestinian Football Since 1995

Ibrahim Rabaia, The Palestine Research Center