#IAS_NUQ panel unpacks sports, Global South intersection

December 20, 2022
International media and sports scholars explored sports and their relationship with cultures and communities of the Global South in a panel hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South (#IAS_NUQ), Sports in the Global South, on the sidelines of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Sharing insights from their research and publications, panelists explained the valence of sports as a lens for understanding the Global South with a particular focus on examining media systems, geopolitics, performativity, and gender in a conversation moderated by Danyel Reiche, visiting research fellow at the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar.
Gerard Akindes, co-editor of Identity and Nation in African Football: Fans, Communities and Clubs, began the conversation by examining the history of football in post-independence Africa and how, after the 1982 World Cup, African countries protested to increase the number of African teams allowed in the tournament. “What this [protest] displays is the dynamic between African countries as footballing nations and mostly Europe and South America,” said Akindes. “It was difficult for Europe and South America to give away the sport to Africa and Asia, but that power dynamic continues till today, despite African teams getting better in their performance.”
Expanding on Akindes’ argument about colonialism and the evolution of modern football in Africa, Victor Andrade de Melo, professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, discussed how football as a cultural phenomenon has shaped Latin American nation-building projects. He explained how, while football spread as a sport for the elite around the world, it was a uniting force for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds in Latin America.
In examining the football and gender intersection in the Global South, Nida Ahmad, an independent researcher and sports for development consultant, said football in Turkey has emerged as a venue for broader discourse on the natural difference between genders. “There is this perception that men have a natural talent or a natural understanding of football, whereas women are naturally incapable of understanding the game and playing it.”
Ahmad went on to explain how such perceptions have affected the experiences of women football fans in Turkey and created a footballing fan culture hostile to women. “Football is still a very male-dominated area in Turkey,” noted Ahmad. “If you are a woman, you are already disadvantaged and have to prove yourself as a fan or player, but if you are also wearing a headscarf, you are double disadvantaged, and there is even more burden on you to prove yourself that you actually belong in the stadium.”
The panel, Sports in the Global South, was part of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South’s virtual events. For more information about the #IAS_NUQ and upcoming events, click here.