07 September 2014
An expected decision by Egyptian football authorities to ban as terrorist organisations groups of militant football fans builds on the definition by Arab autocrats of legitimate, democratic opposition forces as violent threats to their grip on power. By leaving youth with ever fewer, if any, options for venting pent-up anger and frustration, it risks pushing them towards violent, militant Islamist groups.
In banning the ultras – groups of fervent, well-organised, street battle-hardened football fans – authorities would outlaw a social force that rivalled in appeal the Muslim Brotherhood that was criminalised last year as a terrorist organisation with the military coup that toppled Mohamed Morsi, the country’s only democratically elected president.
… James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, and a forthcoming book with the same title.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 12/09/2014