Event details

Nejmeh, THE TROUBLED CLUB: Football and Politics in Lebanon

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Public research seminar


Muzna Al-Masri


(OIB Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow)


Thursday, 14 June, 4-5:30pm


Followed by the FIFA WORLD CUP OPENING GAME Russia vs. Saudi Arabia

OIB Garden - 6 pm

Please confirm your presence by mail as seats are limited (sek@orient-institut.org).



Observing politics through the spectacular lens of sports, Nejmeh Sports Club in particular, this talk presents the negotiation and construction of the emerging ´glocal` model of entrepreneurial elite which late prime minister Rafic Hariri exemplified.

Through a serendipitous convergence of political events, demographic changes and exceptional leadership, Nejmeh - indisputably Lebanon’s most popular football club - managed to gather around it a large and diverse body of fans and triumphed over internal sectarian divisions for over two decades. It succeeded in contesting the logic of politico-sectarian allotment that largely governed the Lebanese sports scene.  

The transition of the club into the patronage of late prime Minister Rafic Hariri early in the twenty-first century ushered in major changes, telling of the changes and continuities in practices of politics in post-civil war Lebanon and through the turbulent years after Hariri’s assassination. Business entrepreneurship and the performative use of wealth are combined with well-tried tactics of ascendance to power, namely philanthropy, sectarianism, clientelism and strong arm racketeering in shaping and reshaping the troubled country and club.




Muzna Al-Masri is a postdoctoral fellow at OIB, currently preparing a book manuscript on her research on sports and politics in Lebanon. Before joining the OIB she was postdoctoral fellow with the Arab Council for the Social Sciences, affiliated with the Centre for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut and has consulted as researcher and conflict analyst with several UN and international organizations. She obtained her PhD in Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London in 2016.