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CMENAS Fall 2023 Colloquium Series. Football Culture, Politics, and Economics in the Middle East and North Africa

Stefan Szymanski, Stephen J. Galetti Professor of Sport Management, University of Michigan
Monday, September 18, 2023
1:00-2:30 PM
555 Weiser Hall Map
Football has been played in the MENA region since the 19th century and has been successively instrumentalized by colonialists, anti-colonialists, nationalists, internationalists, capitalists, socialists and authoritarians. Because the outside world is unfamiliar with the historical role of football in the region, it comes as a surprise that Qatar might feel competent to host a World Cup, or that Saudi Arabia might harbor the ambition to create a globally competitive national league. In this talk I aim to place these developments in their broader context, and to frame them using two theses. First, football interest is inherently local – stemming from rivalries which can often be traced back more than a century. Second, football economics is inherently global, since playing talent migrates to where it is most highly valued. This framing carries some implications for the future development of football in the MENA region, and the political tensions that this may create.

Stefan Szymanski is an economist who studies sports. He is currently a Professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan. He has published widely on sports topics in peer-reviewed economics journals and has written a dozen books. The most well-known is Soccernomics (co-authored with Simon Kuper), which has been translated into 18 languages, though not Arabic or Hebrew.

This event is part of the CMENAS Fall Colloquium 2023: “The MENA world after a MENA World Cup” 555 Weiser Hall, 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor.

Colloquium questions:

This series is funded in part by the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) grant.

To register, go to
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Workshop / Seminar
Tags: center for middle eastern and north african studies, cmenas, Cmenas Colloquium Series, Discussion, Lecture, Middle East Studies, Workshop
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, International Institute

International Institute Programming

The International Institute’s centers sponsor numerous conferences, lectures, exhibits, and cultural performances throughout the year. These events are designed to educate the university community and the public about global issues and inspire discussion and dialogue. 

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