2015 Arab Media Forum: Sports promote friendship, peace

2015 Arab Media Forum: Sports promote friendship, peace
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Published May 13th, 2015 - 16:46 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Sports is the most beautiful activity of humankind, Metikawi said
Sports is the most beautiful activity of humankind, Metikawi said

Mustafa Agha, Head, MBC Sports and moderator for the afternoon session of the 14th Arab Media Forum at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai today, began with the words, ‘danger’ and ‘disease’, "both on and off the field".

He then played a hard-hitting film that displayed in all its ugliness one of the threats that faces Arab sports and society today - Hooliganism in Sports, according to UAE News Agency (WAM).

Also on the anvil was the role media plays or should be playing to negate the effects of this peril.

Two of the panelists - Hassan Al Metikawi, Writer and Sports Critic, from Egypt and Ezzudin Mayhubi, former Minister of Information, Algeria, both represent countries that have experienced hooliganism in sports.

Both recounted the clashes their countries have faced, when they played each other in football and at the individual club level as well.

However, it was the Deputy Commander of the Abu Dhabi Police, and Member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Office, Mohammed Al Rumaithi who traced the rise of hooliganism in sports to the 1970s.

"The UAE has a law in place that governs the security of stadiums," Al Rumaithi said, adding, "Also, each sporting institute has to have a security officer as part of the organisational structure."

Ezzudin Mayhubi, was a minister in Algeria when the fans clashed with Egypt and he recounted an atmosphere charged with emotion and hysteria.

"We cannot jump over our relations when we play sports so that the winner becomes the loser," he said.

Mayhubi also alluded to a "historical accumulation" of passions and fervors in the region that then boil over.

Hassan Al Metikawi, Writer and Sports Critic, from Egypt, laid the blame squarely on social media as one of the key reasons for inciting violence and hooliganism in sports in Egypt.

"There were devils behind the scenes and through social media they ignited the passions that caused so much distress," Metikawi said.

Inviting suggestions on the role the media plays, or should not be playing, Mustafa Agha as head of MBC Sports cited laws in Europe that can prevent a player from attending his club’s matches.

Mohammed Al Rumaithi said, "With all due respect to media organisations, it has become the ‘media of clubs’. Media support some clubs and highlight only negative aspects or positive aspects, depending on the club."

"In the army we learned that loyalty is important, but not to the extent of hooliganism and extremism," he added.

Metikawi cited that in his experience, the media created "puppets and clowns" when reporting sports and legislation was needed to ensure those breaking rules and laws are punished.

A whole change of discourse was cited as the future for media to aid in driving out the passions that led to hooliganism in sports.

Mayhubi cited the various "ultra" football fan clubs as an example of the "terror" that can spread in sports, while Al Rumaithi called on media to better control TV interaction with club supporters.

"Sports is the most beautiful activity of humankind," Metikawi said, "When Real Madrid and Barcelona play, you feel like one of them is going to go to paradise. Then when the whistle blows, there is peace and love. With the Arab teams, why can it not be the same?"

The Arab Media Forum 2015 is being attended by more than 2,000 delegates from the region and the wider world. A third of the speakers this year are foreign experts. In keeping with the ‘2015 Year of Innovation’ in the UAE, AMF 2015 features two key new concepts – The Media Walk which features a brief history of media; and Davos-style 20-minute sessions sponsored by Nakheel. Additionally, AMF 2015 also features workshops sponsored by DP World, WAM reported.

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