Saturday, December 29, 2012

silly election in a lousy kingdom of horror

"The recent election of former soccer player Ahmed Eid Alharbi as the first freely chosen head of the Saudi Football Federation (SFF) in a country that views polling as an alien Western concept masks regional fears of the impact of popular revolts that have swept the Middle East and North Africa. It also constitutes the first time that autocratic rulers have sought to reduce their identification with soccer in a break with a tradition that employs the beautiful game in a bid to polish their tarnished images.  Mr. Alharbi, a former goalkeeper of Al Ahli SC, the soccer team of the Red Sea port of Jeddah, who is widely seen as a reformer and proponent of women's soccer in a country where women are fighting to gain the right to play football, narrowly won the election widely covered by Saudi media to become the Saudi federation's first-ever elected leader.  "Saudis were witnessing for the very first time in their lives a government official being elected through what they used to consider as a Western ballot system. People eagerly followed a televised presidential debate between the two candidates the previous day," Mr. Alsaif wrote." (thanks Basim)