Regional Studies, Student Engagement

CURA Seminar: Football in the Middle East


On March 19, 2020, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) held a CURA seminar under its Undergraduate Research Advancement program. This is an opportunity for CURA Fellows to discuss new articles from scholars who have submitted to CIRS’s regional research initiative on “Football in the Middle East.” In observing local regulations for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, the seminar was hosted online through Zoom. Two papers were critiqued, and feedback from the CURA Fellows was gathered to later share with the research working group. 

Khushboo Shah (class of 2022) opened the seminar by presenting Danyel Reiche’s paper “Playing in the triple periphery: Exclusionary policies towards Palestinian football in Lebanon.” The paper explores the development of policy toward Palestinian football players in Lebanon through a chronological survey of policies and interviews with scholars and players. The author describes a gradual restriction of Palestinian football players through a series of quotas and fees imposed to restrict their number. Through a comparative perspective, Reiche emphasizes the relative lack of opportunities and flexibility Palestinian players have in Lebanon compared to those in Israel and Jordan.

Chaïmaa Benkermi (class of 2021) led the second half of the seminar by presenting Thomas Ross Griffin’s “Who Kisses the Badge? The Player’s Perspective in the Performance of National Identity in the Qatar National Team.” Griffin uses literary and social media analysis to understand the performance of nationalism of players in the Qatari National Football team. The author divides the players into three categories: those who were born Qatari (jus sanguinis), non-Qataris born in Qatar (jus soli), and naturalized players from Europe and North Africa (jus talenti). Griffin argues that players from all three groups express Qatari nationalism in similar ways despite their different origins, particularly in their embrace of the image of the Emir and the anthem Shoomila Shoomila.

Following the presentations, CURA fellow engaged in an in-depth discussion about the structure, theoretical framework, sources, and clarity and strength of each paper. While analyzing the papers’ significance to the current scholarship of Football in the Middle East, CURA fellows use the research and analytical skills they learn on the job and through various CURA activities to contribute to their assessments. 

Following the seminar, Salma Hassabou (class of 2022) and Shaza Afifi (class of 2022) will serve as ambassadors to present the comments to the working group on “Football in the Middle East,” which will be held on a virtual platform in early April.

  • For the participants’ biographies, please click here

Article by Ngoc Nguyen, CURA Research Fellow