21 September 2016
This is a story as much about Saudi Arabia or for that matter about Iran as it is about international sports associations and how they balance upholding their principles and values with a realistic assessment of how they can best ensure compliance by member associations. In fact, this story could just as well be about whether Qatar against the backdrop of criticism of its labour regime should be allowed to host the 2022 World Cup or whether collective punishment that penalizes guilty and innocent athletes alike is the way to go in the case of Russia that stands accused of endorsing doping.
The issue in Saudi Arabia and Iran is women’s sporting rights. In Iran, it really is about only one right; the right to attend male sporting tournaments. Iranian women sports is otherwise by and large well developed. In Saudi Arabia, it’s about stadium attendance too, but it’s about much more, it’s about the right to physical exercise and the right to compete in any sporting discipline. Attitudes of international sports association towards upholding women’s sporting rights in Saudi Arabia and Iran constitutes a mixed bag. In fact, until 2012 both countries got away with restricting women’s rights with no risk to their ability to host or compete in international tournaments and no risk of being barred or their reputations being tarnished.
… Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World Aof Middle East Soccer blog, a recently published book with the same title, and also just published Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario.
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 22/09/2016