North Africa, West Asia

Sports and politics

Sports have been and still are used as a way to control the masses. How and why do fan clubs shift from sports to politics? Join the debate

21 December 2016
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Mohammed El Raai/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.

As part of the Middle East Forum debates, participants discussed the role of sports in politics both as a means of control and as pathway to dissent.

“Amazing they were able to organise themselves so well, considering social media was not available to them back in 2005 as it is now.”

During the discussion session, participants notes that while the regime in Bahrain is using sports to advance its own agenda, in Egypt the state is actively ensuring the elimination of its football fan base.

“They seem to be coming from a place where the police are hated.”

Sports have been and still are used as a way to control the masses. Generally speaking, Ultras fan clubs have often been more right leaning, but in Egypt for example, they were considered a prominent force during the 2011 uprising against the security state.

“They are a classless society and there’s diminishing space for that, as the government ensures that class divisions prosper.”

How and why did they shift from sports to politics?

Do you have any thoughts about these issues? Share with us your opinion, position, criticism, and arguments in the comment section below, or send us a longer contribution here.

As part of this conversation you can read the amazing article series by Karim Zidan exploring the role of sports and specifically football fans in Egyptian politics:

Sports, politics, revolution: how a hardcore football fan club impacted Egyptian consciousness

Football’s martyrs: how the Ultras become revolutionaries

Ultras in mourning: how a massacre, revolutionary aftermath and politics killed Egyptian football

رياضة وثورة وسياسة: كيف أثر نادي الألتراس على الوعي المصري؟

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