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Category: Middle East and North Africa

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Qatar to abolish ‘kafala’ labour next January before 2022 World Cup

• ILO announces reforms including minimum wage• Qatar has faced pressure over unsafe working conditionsThe most deeply resented employment condition for migrant workers in Qatar, the “kafala” system, is to be abolished in January, the International Lab…

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The Observer view on the World Athletics Championships: a sport in crisis | Observer editorial

Golden moments on the track can’t disguise a deeply flawed event in DohaMajor sports events tend to follow the same, inviolable narrative. In the build-up, the projections are universally doom-laden. Media reports focus on the dubious circumstances und…

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Dr Cool, the engineer keeping Qatar clear of white elephants

• Saud Abdul Ghani’s technology keeps stadiums cool• Qatar hosting 2022 World Cup and world athleticsIt has been impossible to walk anywhere outdoors in Qatar this week without the body breaking into a fevered sweat in the 100F heat with 80% humidity. …

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Alcohol set to be subsidised and more available at 2022 World Cup in Qatar

• Organisers plan for cheaper prices and more sale points• England fans urged to be on best behaviour if team qualifiesOrganisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are close to a deal that would lead to alcohol being subsidised and more readily available …

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Grotesque tragedy unlikely to shame Fifa into action over Iran’s ban on female fans | Marina Hyde

Toothless urgings followed the death of Sahar Khodayari, who – faced with prison for trying to watch football – set herself on fireThe grim tragedy of Sahar Khodayari once again forces Fifa to pick the most expedient version of itself. Is it an organis…

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Arabian fights: inside the UFC’s long-term partnership with the UAE

The UFC returns to the UAE for the first time in five years on Saturday, but the promotion is steeped in controversyOn Saturday, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the United Arab Emirates for the first time following a five-year hiatus …

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Sportswashing: how Saudi Arabia lobbies the US’s largest sports bodies

Saudi Arabia’s relatively sudden interest in sports can be construed as a soft power tactic to help distract from the kingdom’s ongoing human rights abuses and the Yemen crisisLast month, the foreign registration documentation for Saudi Arabia’s 2018 l…

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Maryam Shojaei helps Iran’s female football fans carry fight for admission | Suzanne Wrack

Gianni Infantino’s efforts have not had much impact and, with World Cup qualifiers soon, the wait to attend games continues“They think that, if they give up on this, it’s a noose for them,” says Maryam Shojaei. “People will ask for more. If they give i…

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Bahrain activist jailed after Grand Prix criticism is released

Najah Yusuf pardoned following three years in prison for Facebook post against race and regimeAn activist who was assaulted, tortured and imprisoned for three years for criticising the Formula One race in Bahrain has been freed by authorities today.Naj…

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Saudi race not about F1 healing powers but cash and cleaning the regime’s reputation | Marina Hyde

For all the talk of social change in Saudi Arabia, the beneficiaries of a grand prix would be F1’s coffers and the country’s rulerWas it really only last year that Formula One’s owner, Liberty Media, was making its pious announcement that “grid girls” …

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Football world calls on Saudi Arabia to stop pirating of matches

Bodies including Premier League write to Saudi authorities asking them to crack down on content theftThe world’s biggest football authorities, including those who run the Premier League, World Cup and Champions League, have called on Saudi Arabia to ta…

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Algeria fans light up London after Afcon triumph – in pictures

Finsbury Park and Trafalgar Square were deluged with more than a thousand Algerian supporters as they won the Africa Cup of Nations on Friday night. The 1-0 win over Senegal was greeted with fireworks and jubilation Continue reading…

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Qatar agrees to inquiry into death of Briton at World Cup stadium

Family of Zac Cox say a British judge will look for lessons to be learned from death in 2017The Qatari organisation in charge of staging the 2022 World Cup has agreed to hold a wide-ranging inquiry led by a British judge into the death of a British wor…

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British football fan detained in UAE lodges human rights complaint

Ali Issa Ahmad brings case to UN alleging he was tortured after wearing Qatar T-shirt to matchA British football fan who says he was detained and tortured while on holiday in the United Arab Emirates because he wore a Qatar shirt has lodged a legal com…

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Bahrain-Merida cycling team being used to ‘sportswash’, campaigners say

Protests at Bahrain’s human rights abuses in letter to UCIBahrain-Merida say team are separate from governmentCampaign groups have written to the UCI, cycling’s governing body, protesting at its licensing of the Bahrain-Merida team, and the team’s part…

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Amir Khan defends £7m Saudi Arabia fight despite human rights concerns

• Khan faces Neeraj Goyat at King Abdullah Sports City in July• ‘I would be stupid to not take this opportunity’Amir Khan has defended the choice of location for his next fight in the face of human rights concerns by claiming Saudi Arabia is undergoing…

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‘You get used to the gunfire’ – filming the Libyan women’s football team

Denounced on TV, they train at secret locations watched by armed guards. We meet the woman from Hastings who made a fascinating film about Libya’s guttsiest football squad‘Just what our country needs!” rails the imam sarcastically on Libyan TV. “A wome…

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‘I wouldn’t be the refugee, I’d be the girl who kicked ass’: how taekwondo made me

When she arrived in the US as a 10-year-old refugee, Dina Nayeri found it hard to fit in. But that all changed when she hatched a plan to get into Harvard – by becoming a taekwondo championWhen I was 13, three years after arriving in the US with my mot…

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Paris Saint-Germain president faces corruption inquiry

Nasser al-Khelaifi suspected of paying $3.5m to IAAF chief to help Qatar land world eventThe president of Paris Saint-Germain football club, Nasser al-Khelaifi, has been placed under investigation for suspected corruption, a French judicial official sa…

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Undercover: female football fans in Iran

For nearly 40 years, Iranian women have been banned from watching stadium football matches. The photographer Forough Alaei, a World Press Photo winner in the sports category for her Crying for Freedom series, describes following the story of Zeinab, on…