America’s Game in the Middle East: the 2027 Qatar Basketball World Cup

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The Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) has launched a new research project “America’s Game in the Middle East: the 2027 Qatar Basketball World Cup,” which studies U.S. engagement in the Middle East through the lens of basketball and the development of the American game in the region. Professor Danyel Reiche leads the initiative, which adopts a multidisciplinary approach and explores a wide range of cultural, economic, political, and social issues, including the origins of the game in the Middle East and the role America played in this process. Some of the key topics studied include the importance of the Middle East as a market for the American professional basketball league, the NBA; broadcasting rights for the NBA held by the Qatari network of sports channels, BeIn Sports; Middle Eastern basketball players in the NBA and U.S. College sports; the role of naturalized American basketball players in Middle Eastern national teams and the rules for naturalization in FIBA; the motives of Qatar as a small state to host the 2027 FIBA men’s World Cup; the role of basketball in major migrant communities in the Gulf (for example, in the Philippines, basketball is the most popular sport, and in Qatar, Philippine migrants run their own basketball league); Women’s basketball development in the Middle East, such as lifting the discriminatory hijab ban in FIBA in 2017; amongst other critical topics. This research initiative builds on previous CIRS projects, including, “Sports, Politics and Society in the Middle East”, “Football in the Middle East”, “Building a Legacy: Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022,” and the related project “Qatar’s World Cup Goals: Moving from the Periphery to the Center.”

The project contributes to constant knowledge production, with a lecture series and vlogs as the main source of information for scholars, journalists, and the general public around the globe. Our longer-term aim is to convene a workshop comprised of local and international scholars to discuss research gaps on the topic, and later work on contributions for a special issue of an academic journal. A call for papers to solicit original contributions for the journal launches in spring 2024 and selected scholars are invited for workshops at GUQ.

Faculty Lead

Danyel Reiche
Visiting Associate Professor at GU-Q