The 2022 FIFA World Cup, between Soccer and Faith – English versionMahfoud Amara and Youcef Bouandel
The 2022 FIFA World Cup which is currently held in Qatar offers a number of venues for reflection about the association and intersection between sport and religion. The FIFA World Cup is considered the second biggest international event after the Summer Olympics in terms of media attention, number of spectators and corporate interests from sponsors. It is a moment of mass gathering whether on and off the pitch. It is even competing with other gathering of monolithic and other religious traditions, bringing people together from different nations, ethnic origins, and faiths. For some sport is even challenging traditional religions. Whereas religions are losing followers due to increasing secularization, one the one hand, sport in general and particularly mega sport events such the FIFA World Cup is attracting more followers on other hand, thanks to the advance of broadcasting technology and increasing penetrations of internet. Sport has also been borrowing from religion a number of features related to spiritualityWilliam J. Baker, If Christ Came to the Olympics, Sidney, UNSW Press, 2000; William J. Baker, Playing with God: Religion and Modern Sport, Cambridge, Harvard University, 2007; William J. Baker, Of … Continue reading. It is customary to see players of different faiths exhibit sings of their religion. The Brazilian Kaka had a t-shirt under his jersey that said, “I belong to Jesus” whereas Neymar wore a headband that had “100% Jesus” written on it after he helped his country, Brazil, win the Olympic Gold Medal in 2016. Similarly, it is customary to see Muslim players, such Mohammed Salah of Liverpool, recite El Fatiha –the opening versus of the Quran, and makes Sujud (prostration, a position that Muslims adopt several times a day when they are praying) whenever they score. These, and other rituals, have become an integral part of the modern game. They give players some sense of security, which instils in them a sense of invincibility. Mohammed Ali, the former boxing world champion famously asked, “how can I lose when God is with me?” The first goal that Maradona scored against England in the World Cup quarterfinal in Mexico in 1986, dubbed by the scorer himself as “the hand of God”. Football teams are unifying force for the fans and sport arenas such as Maracanã, Anfield or Old Trafford, to name just a few, turned into shrines where people celebrate their joy, express their sadness and nostalgia. The football pitches including the grass and the soil can be revered because football legends such as Pele, Maradona, Garincha, George Best and Beckenbauer played on them. Fans can even buy a piece of that grass and soil –another source of revenue for professional football clubs in times of financial crisis— to be buried with it and to take into their next journey. Stars are being venerated more than even before; Robbie Fowler, Liverpool’s former striker, was simply known as “God” by the Liverpool’s supporters. Furthermore, some Argentinian fans went as far as creating the Iglesia Maradoniana (the Church of Maradona) in 1998 in honor of Diego Armando Maradona , who for many around the world is more than a merely football player. We follow players’ hairstyle, we wear their brands, we follow their life style, their names are tattooed on fans’ bodies. If an Imam or a priest asks believers to come to the sermon, which is happening at the same as the national team is playing a decisive match to qualify to the World Cup, there is a high chance that the place of worship would be filled with the first row at best. Indeed, Portuguese mega star, Cristiano Ronaldo has more than 450 million followers on Instagram, in comparison to Pope Francis with 8.9 Millions followers .
After this preliminary discussion of the impact on religion on sport and their interconnection in our contemporary life, the focus of the first part is on Qatar, a majority Muslim country, hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The essay addresses the following questions: how is Qatar being perceived as a Muslim country hosting the FIFA World Cup? What does it mean for Qatar being the host of such as mega event? Furthermore, what does the engagement of Qatar with global football industry mean in relation to the more conservative elements in Qatari society? In other words, what are the concessions if any that Qatar as a host has had to make to reconcile between religious values and other organizational and business requirements surrounding the event from entertainment and investment point of view? We will then move in a second part to discuss the participation of Muslim countries in the FIFA World Cup. What does it mean in relation debate of Islam and secularization if any in these countries? Last and not least, the essay will also cover the debate about Muslim players having to navigate between their identity as professional players and Muslim identities (in plural), loyalty to country of origin and cultural norms and identity of the host society.
The World Cup in Qatar
Until the turn of the Twenty First Century, the World Cup were hosted by countries in either Europe or Americas. These countries were largely Christians. Since the turn of the Century, the World Cup went to Asia (South Koran and Japan in 2002) and Africa (South Africa in 2010). Whilst South Africa is predominantly Christians with Muslim minority, Christianity is present to varying degrees in both South Korea and Japan. Christian movements such as YMCA played a significant role in the diffusion of modern sport led by the philosophy of Muscular Christianity The notion that the body and sport can be implemented as a philosophy to preach Christianity. A philosophy adopted by missionary organizations such as YMCA in their diffusion of modern sport and … Continue reading, in South Korean in particular. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is organized for the first time by an Arab and majority Muslim country. The decision to award Qatar the right to host the tournament was received with skepticism in different parts of the world. Portrayed as a country with no football tradition, the unbearable heat, the human rights record and Islam that prohibits dominant subcultures associated with football, such as alcohol, Qatar was simply presented as not the right place to hold the tournament. For the host country, hosting an event of this magnitude is a significant achievement. The economic benefits and the nation’s branding apart, the tournament, whilst providing the country and the region with the perfect opportunity to display its Arabo-Islamic culture and the prospect to alter the negative perception on Arabs and Islam, it also presents the Qatari authorities, the local populations, FIFA and fans alike, with some formidable challenges.
Whilst the issue of workers’ rights has been the most criticized, other issues pertaining to the rights of the LGBT+ community as well as the purchase and consumption of alcohol, have also been on the main headlines. Qatar is Muslim conservative country whose laws are inspired from Sharia (Islamic law based on the teaching of Quran and the traditions of the Prophet). According to Islamic law, the sale, purchase and consumption of alcohol is prohibited. Similarly, “public display of affection” or any sexual act that takes place outside the sanctity of marriage, let alone relations between two people of the same sex, are forbidden.
Mohammed Aboutrika, one of the most decorated Egyptians footballer and currently a pundit with BeInSport, and ambassador of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, blamed by government and state controlled media in Egypt of being close to the dismantled Muslim Brotherhood , caused a stir last year. He openly called on Muslim players to boycott the premier league’s “Rainbow Laces” campaign designed to support the LGBT+ community. He argued the “need to educate young kids” saying that “such a phenomenon [homosexuality] doesn’t fit our faith and religion ... people should pay attention and be careful, sports enters every home nowTranslated from Arabic. [Online] https://www.bbc.com/arabic/trending-59462211 (accessed on 22nd of November, 2022). Few weeks before the tournament he made similar statement regarding what he terms as “western campaign against Qatar”: “ we would not change our traditions and religion because of 28 days of the FIFA World CupTranslated from Arabic. [Online] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/ sport/أبو-تريكة-لن-نغير-عاداتنا-لأجل-28-يوماً-والحملات-لم-تعد-تخيفنا (accessed on 22nd of … Continue reading”. Although Aboutrika statements are not endorsed by the organizing committee of the FIFA World Cup nor by his current employer BeInSport, however it echoes the feeling of many in the country and in the region, who are not comfortable with what they may perceive as western (secular) agenda to impose its values, cultural norms and life style.
For their part, the Qatari authorities have been unequivocal about their stand on the issue. They repeat in every occasion that everyone is welcome but insist visitors must respect the local culture and customs. According to the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is the body responsible for the planning and the delivery of the tournament “everyone will be welcome regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or nationality. All fans should rest assured that the tournament organizers are making every reasonable effort to ensure their safety and well-being during their visit to Qatar … Public display of affection is not part of Qatari culture, and therefore locals expect visitors from all backgrounds to respect the local culture and customsMahfoud Aara & Youcef Bouandel, “Culture and the World Cup: The Case of Qatar”, in Simon Chadwick, Paul Widdop, Christos Anagnostopoulos and Daniel Parnell, (eds), The Business of the FIFA … Continue reading”. The Supreme Committee emphasized that any kind of discrimination would not be tolerated, and sexual orientation was listed with other potentially discriminatory characteristics such as ethnicity and gender. In other words, sexual orientation is not viewed as the only distinguishing trait, which helps to reduce hyperbole, stress surrounding it, and reassure the LGBT+ community that they have nothing to fear when they come to the country as long as they respect the traditions and values of the host country. In other words, what happens behind closed doors remains private, but discourage public display of affection, which runs against the values and culture. That is being said, police are being urged to restrain from intervening if faced with similar situation or with the rise of LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, which is accepted in other countriesPaul MacInnes, “Qatar police urged to show restraint during World Cup after Fifa talks”, The Guardian, 4 novembre 2022. [Online] … Continue reading. As the role of security forces is to keep as discreet as possible to maintain the festive atmosphere, while intervening primary in case of a serious security breach and threat.
Another controversial issue that surrounded Qatar and the FIFA World Cup 2022 is alcohol. Football games, alcohol and fans go together. A study by Strang and Disley found that “alcohol is a common feature at international football events.” They also point to the fact that “not all fans drink alcohol and not all fans who consume alcohol get intoxicated.” They argue, “despite the existence of cultural attitudes … fans from many parts of the world expect to be able to consume alcohol as part of the experience of watching international football matchesLucy Strang and Emma Disley, “Violent and antisocial behaviour at football events and strategies to prevent and respond to these behaviours”, Rand Corporation, 2018, p.1. [Online] … Continue reading”. Giving the aggressive marketing and visibility of alcohol beverage in sport through sponsorship and TV adverts during football competitions, some fans are not only used but also expect to drink alcohol while watching football games. However, alcohol is not widely available in Qatar and its consumption is highly regulated. What is Qatar’s approach to reconcile these two diametrically opposing spectrums? Qatar sought to find a balance between the demands/expectations of fans and stakeholders but not at the expense of the local population and culture. The Qatari authorities emphasize the country’s openness to fans, whilst also stressing other regulations, which are not necessarily unique to Qatar, as a Muslim country. Alcohol is accessible in licensed pubs and some hotels in the country. During the football tournament, alcohol will be available in fans zone. It will not, however, be allowed inside stadiums. Finally and perhaps more importantly, fans should note, as emphasized by the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, that public intoxication (“drunk and disorderly” offense in many countries) and public drinking are not permitted. Interestingly, alcohol beverage companies either associated directly with the tournament as main sponsors (i.e. Budweiser) or not, are also accommodating their marketing strategy to tap in to the growing market of non-alcoholic beers and equivalents in majority Muslim countries and communitiesGuillaume Bodet & Mahfoud, Amara, “Islamic sport marketing or sport marketing in Muslim countries and communities”, in Alberto Testa & Mahfoud Amara (eds.), Sport in Islam and in Muslim … Continue reading.
Muslim Countries and the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Majority Muslim countries started to engage with sport since their independence and existence as nation-states. Their affiliations to International Olympic Committee and International Football Federations (FIFA) as well as other International Sport Federations is recognized as highly symbolic in the consolidating the recognition of these nations as independent entities. Raising the flags of these nations in international sport competitions such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup is a symbolic act for these nations to position themselves on the world map. Sport becomes an arena for political and cultural representation and an opportunity to display the country’s identity. For some Muslim countries, which have been under more or less secular rule such as Turkey and with different degrees countries in North Africa and East Asia, the representation of religion as a foundation of the state’s identity in the sporting context was not as strong. This is in sharp contrast to other nations, which are labelled as more conservative where religion is present, and visible, in the political and public spheresAlberto Testa & Mahfoud Amara, op. cit. . For instance, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Countries (the GCC) and Iran. Until 2012 Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei were the last countries to have women athletes participating in the Olympics due to restrictions by International Sport Federations concerning the approved dress code and the ban of the veil (Hijab) from sport. A ban, which was lifted since by International Federations, allowing women athletes with the veil to participate in international sport events and world championships. The participation of Iran in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is happening in the midst of heated debate and protestations in the country prompted by the death 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in custodyIsaac Chotiner, “How Iran’s Hijab Protest Movement Became So Powerful”, The New Yorker, 2 octobre 2022. [Online] … Continue reading (Chotiner, 2022), The political situation in Iran is adding further pressure on players of the Iranian national team whether to take a political stand towards the growing protestation taking place against the symbols of the Islamic state.
The secular stance with regards to religion is not always clear cut by these Muslim majority countries which present themselves as secular, including Turkey (although not qualified this time to the World Cup) and which is witnessing under the leadership of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the revival of the “Othman Islamic empire”Alan Mikhail, “Why Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Love Affair with the Ottoman Empire Should Worry The World”, The Times, September 3, 2022. [Online] … Continue reading. Morocco and Tunisia, the two countries from the Maghreb qualified to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite their relatively long tradition state controlled Islam, are dealing more than even before with the question of islamisation. In Morocco to protect the political legitimacy of Al-Makhzen represented by the figure of the King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, and in Tunisia to accommodate the role of political Islam and growing Salafi influence in post-Ben Ali Tunisian society. Saudi Arabia, with the long tradition of conservatism is moving today to a different direction under its de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman with the restructuration of Islamic institution and revision of their political power in decision-makingYasmine Farouk & Nathan J. Brown, “Saudi Arabia’s Religious Reforms Are Touching Nothing but Changing Everything”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2021. [Online] … Continue reading (Farouk and Brown, 2021). Pushing hence for the agenda of opening Saudi society to global trends of economics, trade, tourism, and of course, entertainment. For instance, it is only until recently, Saudi Arabia and Iran had some restrictions on women from entering football stadiumHuman Rights Watch, Qatar: Security Forces Arrest, Abuse LGBT People, October 24, 2022. [Online] https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/24/qatar-security-forces-arrest-abuse-lgbt-people (accessed October … Continue reading (Human Rights Watch, 2022). As discussed in the previous section about the positioning of sport sector (and investment in football) in the strategy of Qatar, Saudi Arabia is investing in international sport market (e.g. the takeover of the premier league club, Newcastle) and the hosting of international sport events as a means to connect between different strategic sectors. These are tourism and hospitality, retail, construction (including mega urban projects such as NEOMMega project being built in Tabuk Province in Saudi Arabia by the red sea, incorporating futuristic smart city, culture sport leisure and entertainment, among others. More information in the … Continue reading ) and transportation, to name but a few.
When debating about the engagement of majority Muslim countries with the FIFA World Cup one need to consider the engagement of the population in these countries and their extended communities abroad (diaspora) with football and the World Cup. Even the most radical and conservative wings in Islam have not been successful in distancing these populations with their (quasi – religious) passion for football. Which for many is one of the few source of entertainment when confronted with daily socio-economic difficulties (low salary, inflation, chronic unemployment, illegal immigration …etc.). The passion of, and veneration, for football, of top football clubs and celebrities is celebrated in spiritual way. It is not surprising to hear fans adopting religious prayers in their chanting to ask Allah for victory and qualification of the national team to the World Cup. Furthermore, to express their suffering and anger in this life because of social injustice and hence praying for a better life in football terraces, or the other side of the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. crossing the sea to Europe), and if not possible in the hereafter.
“In this country we live in Darkness
We ask for Salvation,
Give us victory our Lord[Online] https://www.varsity.co.uk/sport/21876 (accessed November 22, 2022”
The other religious symbol presents among fans chanting and other displays is that of Shouhad’a (martyrdom), in reference to fans and particularly members of Ultras groups) victims either of rivalry with other groups or repression by security forces, as the case of the incident of Port Said stadium which caused the death of 70 people. The notion of martyrdom is vivid among Ultras groups of Al-Ahly and Al-Zamalek football clubs who actively participated in the uprising against Mubarak RegimeSee photos essay of Jonathan Rashad, “The Port Said Massacre: A Photo Essay”, The Atlantic Council, 2014. [Online] … Continue reading
“I am a Muslim and a Professional Player”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup witnesses the participation of a number of professional players of Muslim cultures and origin backgrounds playing in top European leagues. These players were either born in Muslim majority countries or managed thanks to their talents and an international system of football migration (mainly from the south to the north) to sign a professional contract. Signing a professional contract with a European club (or even in other parts of the world) is the ambition of many young football players, however not open to all in a very competitive professional football system which can only accept the best. Millions of football fans follow players who made it to the top level such as Sadio Mane (Senegal and Bayern Munich) and Achraf Hakimi (Morocco and Paris Saint Germain). Every move and action of these players, inside and off the pitch, including the expression of faith, is followed and scrutinized. Players of Muslim background are under pressure to conform to the standards of sport performance, club requirements, and other economic and marketing demands (contracts with the club and endorsement of commercial brands). They are also expected to conform to their culture of origin (and a certain level of religiosity) as well as the culture of the host society. For instance when Mohamed Salah is making Sujud (i.e. to prostrate) after scoring a goal with Liverpool he may be perceived as practicing Muslim by Muslim fans, or subversive by fans who are secular, agnostic, non-believers or from other faiths . In other words subverting the norms of football culture and the dominant Jewish-Christian cultural tradition of Europe where the act of making Sujud is not the norm (although it is more frequent and visible nowadays). The same Mohammed Salah publishing his picture with his small family celebrating Christmas would be criticized by Muslim fans as not meeting their expectations with regards to the player being somehow the ambassador of Islamic faith in professional football and in Europe. He may be hated and abused by fans who are warry of the over visibility of Islamic faith in European professional football. He may also be abused in social media by fans who are expecting professional Muslim players to behave according to their interpretations of Islamic faith, even if these fans do not live in Europe and they did not experience living as member of a Muslim minority in a majority non-Muslim society, which is different from practicing religion in a majority Muslim country. Having said this the encounter of Mohamed Salah and his expression of Islamic faith on and off the pitch can also contribute to reducing the level of misunderstanding about Islam in Europe and thus reducing level of Islamophobia. This is well documented by Salama Mousa in her study “Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes.” According to the study, published in the American Political Science Review, “using data on hate crime reports throughout England and 15 million tweets from British soccer fans, we find that after Salah joined Liverpool F.C., hate crimes in the Liverpool area dropped by 16% compared with a synthetic control, and Liverpool F.C. fans halved their rates of posting anti-Muslim tweets relative to fans of other top-flight clubs.[fnAla’ Alrababa’h, William Marble, Salma Mousa, and Alexandra A. Siegel, “Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes”, American Political Science Review , 115 (4), 2021, pp. 1111-1128.][/fn]”.
Notwithstanding the positive aspect surrounding the increasing diversity in professional football as for the case of Mohammed Salah, professional football players, and coaches, of Muslim faith whether in their clubs or in the national team are under scrutiny by followers and the media. They are being asked to take positions (and not to keep neutral) in relation to societal issues and political questions inside their country of in relation to international affairs. This can be ranging from the question of Palestine, to commenting on results of political election and the rise of far right in Europe, or the question of Ramadan fasting during the competition, to name but a few. There are instances where the maneuver for these players are reduced and where they have to take a stance, which can put them in a difficult situation with their employers and in relation to their public image. Case in point is rejecting sponsorship from alcohol beverage or gambling company, or refusing (or at least avoiding) to take a position in relation to homophobia. It is the case of PSG’s Idrissa Gueye, the Senegal International, who was ordered by the French Football Federation to explain his absence after homophobia accusationsFrance 24, “PSG's Idrissa Gueye asked to explain absence after homophobia accusations”, May 18, 2022. [Online] … Continue reading.
The fact of making the choice for some of European players with Muslim culture and background (of North African heritage in the case of France) to play for the country of origin (the country of their parents and for some grandparents) either for purely technical football reasons, or for emotional reason, can exclude them from the national community. They will be asked to prove again (and again) that they are faithful (in quasi- religious terms) to their country of citizenshipSeeDavid Storey, “ How African diaspora footballers juggle the identity question”, The Conversation, 2020. [Online] … Continue reading. The same is true for players who choose to play for their country of birth and citizenship. They are accused of following the path of financial profit and celebrity over that of their country (and culture) of origin. Sometimes the notion of loyalty to the country of origin is also mixed up with the allegiance to Islamic faith.
Sports and religion are closely connected. Faith plays an important role in the lives of athletes. Sports and faith foster discipline. Religious rituals on and off the pitch are occasions to express identity and is a source of motivation. They nurture a sense of belonging and create communities. Top level athletes have, and professional football players in particular, become big influencers followed by millions around the world. Given the technological advances the world has witnessed over the past two decades, and the fact that the World Cup will be held for the first time in a Muslim country, the connection between Islam and sports is scrutinized more than ever before. This scrutiny is not only one sided, in other words how Islam is seen through the others’ lenses in terms of its readiness to change, and to accommodate global trends. It is also from within Muslim communities who are passionate about the World Cup, but uncomfortable with different agenda surrounding it, including the implications of hosting mega sport event such as the FIFA World Cup on local culture and tradition as well as the performance and the behaviour of Muslim follow players. Whilst Islam encourages sports, it has to be within its teaching. Hosting the World Cup in Qatar and the issues raised, such as the LGBT+ and the purchase and consumption of alcohol are prime examples of how religion still regulates the daily lives of Muslims, while accommodating global culture of consumption and entertainment surrounding sport carnivals. The study of football, faith and religion during the 2022 FIFA World Cup offers an interesting insight into the level of secularization (westernization) and religiosity at local and global levels, and how different stakeholders including players, sport governing bodies, governments and commercial entities have to carefully and sensibly when dealing with these questions, may be more than ever before.
|↑1||William J. Baker, If Christ Came to the Olympics, Sidney, UNSW Press, 2000; William J. Baker, Playing with God: Religion and Modern Sport, Cambridge, Harvard University, 2007; William J. Baker, Of Gods and Games: Religious Faith and Modern Sports, Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2016.|
|↑2||The notion that the body and sport can be implemented as a philosophy to preach Christianity. A philosophy adopted by missionary organizations such as YMCA in their diffusion of modern sport and sport competitions around the world|
|↑3||Translated from Arabic. [Online] https://www.bbc.com/arabic/trending-59462211 (accessed on 22nd of November, 2022)|
|↑4||Translated from Arabic. [Online] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/ sport/أبو-تريكة-لن-نغير-عاداتنا-لأجل-28-يوماً-والحملات-لم-تعد-تخيفنا (accessed on 22nd of November, 2022)|
|↑5||Mahfoud Aara & Youcef Bouandel, “Culture and the World Cup: The Case of Qatar”, in Simon Chadwick, Paul Widdop, Christos Anagnostopoulos and Daniel Parnell, (eds), The Business of the FIFA World Cup, London, Routledge, 2022, pp. 249.|
|↑6||Paul MacInnes, “Qatar police urged to show restraint during World Cup after Fifa talks”, The Guardian, 4 novembre 2022. [Online] https://www.theguardian.com/football/2022/nov/04/qatar-police-restraint-world-cup-fifa-talks (accessed on the 7th of November, 2022).|
|↑7||Lucy Strang and Emma Disley, “Violent and antisocial behaviour at football events and strategies to prevent and respond to these behaviours”, Rand Corporation, 2018, p.1. [Online] https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR2900/RR2904/RAND_RR290 4.pdf (accessed January 15, 2019).|
|↑8||Guillaume Bodet & Mahfoud, Amara, “Islamic sport marketing or sport marketing in Muslim countries and communities”, in Alberto Testa & Mahfoud Amara (eds.), Sport in Islam and in Muslim Communities, London, Routledge, 2015.|
|↑9||Alberto Testa & Mahfoud Amara, op. cit.|
|↑10||Isaac Chotiner, “How Iran’s Hijab Protest Movement Became So Powerful”, The New Yorker, 2 octobre 2022. [Online] https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/fatemah-shams-how-irans-hijab-protest-movement-became-so-powerful (accessed October 25, 2022).|
|↑11||Alan Mikhail, “Why Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Love Affair with the Ottoman Empire Should Worry The World”, The Times, September 3, 2022. [Online] https://time.com/5885650/erdogans-ottoman-worry-world/ (accessed October 1, 2022).|
|↑12||Yasmine Farouk & Nathan J. Brown, “Saudi Arabia’s Religious Reforms Are Touching Nothing but Changing Everything”, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2021. [Online] https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/06/07/saudi-arabia-s-religious-reforms-are-touching-nothing-but-changing-everything-pub-84650 (accessed October 15, 2022).|
|↑13||Human Rights Watch, Qatar: Security Forces Arrest, Abuse LGBT People, October 24, 2022. [Online] https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/10/24/qatar-security-forces-arrest-abuse-lgbt-people (accessed October 25, 2022).|
|↑14||Mega project being built in Tabuk Province in Saudi Arabia by the red sea, incorporating futuristic smart city, culture sport leisure and entertainment, among others. More information in the following link : https://www.neom.com/en-us/about (accessed November 22, 2022).|
|↑15||[Online] https://www.varsity.co.uk/sport/21876 (accessed November 22, 2022|
|↑16||See photos essay of Jonathan Rashad, “The Port Said Massacre: A Photo Essay”, The Atlantic Council, 2014. [Online] https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-port-said-massacre-a-photo-essay/ (accessed January 15, 2015). Also the recent book and anthropological account of Egyptian football of Carl Rommel, Egypt’s Football Revolution: Emotion, Masculinity, and Uneasy Politics, Austin, Texas, University of Texas Press, 2021.|
|↑17||France 24, “PSG's Idrissa Gueye asked to explain absence after homophobia accusations”, May 18, 2022. [Online] https://www.france24.com/en/sport/20220518-psg-s-idrissa-gueye-asked-to-explain-absence-after-homophobia-accusations (accessed May 19, 2022).|
|↑18||SeeDavid Storey, “ How African diaspora footballers juggle the identity question”, The Conversation, 2020. [Online] https://theconversation.com/how-african-diaspora-footballers-juggle-the-identity-question-138646 (accessed June 5, 2020). See also Mahfoud Amara, “Sport, Islam, and Muslims in Europe: in between or on the Margin?”, Religions, 4(4), 2013, pp. 644-656.|
Mahfoud Amara and Youcef Bouandel, "The 2022 FIFA World Cup, between Soccer and Faith – English version". Bulletin de l'Observatoire international du religieux N°40 [en ligne], novembre 2022. https://obsreligion.cnrs.fr/bulletin/the-2022-fifa-world-cup-between-soccer-and-faith-english-version/