Tuesday, November 24, 2009

When Football Isn't Just A Game

Global Voices Online is one of the most interesting sites for the analysis of blogs from all over the world on any topic imaginable. Recent excitement over the Algeria/Egypt football shootout for a place at the World Cup has been making the news and blogs throughout North Africa and Global Voices has picked up on it.

Egypt won the first match in Cairo after people in the streets attacked the bus of the arriving Algerian team causing some minor injuries. The second game saw a lot of street action in Khartoum after the Algerians won with Egyptians reportedly being targeted, as well as a couple of days of demonstrations with some violence outside the Algerian embassy in Zamalek. As one who was a student at the University of California at Berkeley in the "violent" days of the late 60's when there were "riots" everyday from noon to one in Sproul Plaza, I'm a bit skeptical about news reports of riots. I had a noon class and missed the entire season, much to my siblings' disappointment. I never saw a single "riot". Rats! A friend of mine in Zamalek, however, was able to tell me that things were a bit tense there for a while.

In all the ruckus after the match in Khartoum, Alaa Mubarak, the second son of the President of Egypt who is usually a low profile businessman, called in to some talk shows to express his displeasure at the Algerians who had, on their own turf, taken out their frustrations on Egyptian workers and companies with their own riots. Many Egyptians, apparently, are quite taken with this action and are looking at Alaa with a new light. Marwa Rakha wrote a longish article examining the responses to Alaa Mubarak's outburst as well as looking at the political possibilities presented. After all, in this part of the world (as in most of the world) EVERYTHING is political of course.

Okay, boys and girls. If you can't play nicely, we will have to take the ball and go home.

copyright 2009 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani