Book Review of James M. Dorsey, the Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer (Hurst 2016)
52(6) International Review for the Sociology of Sport 772 (2017)
Posted: 24 Aug 2017
Date Written: June 29, 2017
Positioned at the intersection of sport and politics, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer delivers critical insight into understanding that heart of our world today. From Hurst in the UK and its partner Oxford University Press in North America, Turbulent World takes its title from the blog of the same name. Both are creations of James Dorsey, who has accumulated a wealth of both scholarly research and personal experience on the subject.
No interest in soccer (‘football’ in most of the world) is prerequisite to the read.
Dorsey himself acknowledges in the book’s introduction that soccer was ‘a journey into the unknown’ for him, and – though he is co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture at the University of Würzburg – he disavows personal fandom. Rather, Dorsey analogizes soccer, ‘the world’s most global cultural practice’, to a ‘prism’. Just as a prism separates white light into its constituent colours, Dorsey’s study of soccer disentwines the modern Middle East into ‘sport, society, culture, politics and development’.
Dorsey’s fundamental thesis in Turbulent World is that political conflict in the Middle East, North Africa included, is an impediment to social and economic development, and soccer exemplifies that dynamic. From the Western Sahara to Iran, Middle Eastern powers have sought to build clout and garner legitimacy among nations by developing a soft-power portfolio in sport.
Keywords: sport, development, football, soccer, Middle East, MENA
JEL Classification: I18, I31, J88, K23, K40, L30, L83, O19, O53, Y30, Z18, Z20, Z32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation