07 October 2014
A possible Scotland Yard investigation into allegations that Prince Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, the commander of Bahrain’s armed forces and head of its National Olympic Committee, was involved in the torture of political detainees, including three national team soccer players could prove to be embarrassing for the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and a relative of the prince, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who has systematically refused to condemn the torture and detention of numerous players and athletes in Bahrain.
An investigation if it results in legal proceedings could also constitute a litmus test for the efforts of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach to persuade international sports governance to recognize the inextricable links between sports and politics. It could raise for the IOC issues similar to those that have dogged world soccer body FIFA since the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
In Qatar’s case FIFA executives have been forced by widespread condemnation of labour conditions in the Gulf state to acknowledge that human rights criteria should be taken into consideration in the awarding of future tournaments. In Prince Nasser’s case the question would be whether human rights should be a criteria for eligibility in international sports governance.
…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 09/10/2014