Who is Karim Zidan?
I am an Egyptian who grew up in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, a military dictatorship which had near perfected the art of legitimizing its oppressive rule to endear itself to the West. I came of age, both as a young adult and a writer, during the 2011 Arab Spring, and have experienced the reassertion of retooled and often more savvy dictatorial regimes across the region. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have chosen to pursue a career in journalism, where much of my investigative reporting centers around the machinations of the politically powerful, and in particular the use of sports as a legitimization tool.
During my tenure as an investigative reporter, I helped pioneer and develop the intersection of sports and politics as a legitimate area of reportage. I researched topics ranging from far-right extremists weaponizing sports to radicalize disenfranchised youth, how former U.S. president Donald Trump relied on sports to help platform his presidential agenda, and the various reasons why authoritarian leaders weaponized sports for political gain.
Since 2014, I have reported on more than two dozen countries across six continents, traveled the world in search of intriguing stories, and been exposed to a wide range of sports and socio-political environments. My work covering the intersection of sports and politics has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Nation, Business Insider, and NBC, among many others.
I spent a significant amount of time in Russia between 2014-17, where I visited various regions including St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sochi, Orenburg, and the North Caucasus. I witnessed the annexation of Crimea, the 2014 financial crash, and arrived in Moscow shortly following the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, all of which added to my depth of knowledge on the Russian Federation.
My reporting has also been used as the source material for an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary about Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s use of mixed martial arts to distract from his ongoing purge of LGBTQ+ people. I have given talks at the United Nations annual counter-terrorism conference, the SXSW conference, the Oslo Freedom Forum, and universities such as Princeton.
Why subscribe to Sports Politika?
Long before the inception of the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece, sports have been used to test foreign policies, thaw diplomatic tensions, and broadcast political and social messaging. Yet over the past decade, there has been a growing and alarming trend of authoritarian regimes weaponizing sports as a form of reputation laundering and to distract from human rights abuses.
Sports Politika offers subscribers an opportunity to stay informed about the intersection of sports and politics, its growing role on the global stage, and the machinations of the politically powerful.
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While I am best known for my investigative reporting on the underbelly of combat sports, Sports Politika will expand my reporting to cover the entire sports and gaming industry. This will include reporting on sports such as football (soccer), basketball, surfing, tennis, and horse racing (yes, even horse racing is corrupt).
Expect new essays and investigations every Monday and Wednesday, as well as a round-up post on Fridays.
Readers can subscribe to our publication for just $5 a month or a discounted rate of $50 annually.
I’ve always wanted a platform where I could interact with my readers and online followers in a productive manner. Unlike Twitter, which is dominated by a cesspool of trolls, bad faith arguments, and tribalism, I am confident we can build a strong community of like-minded readers here and I look forward to hearing from you all in the near future.
See you on the other side!