Middle Eastern giant Saudi Arabia has been lavishing astronomical sums of money on soccer superstars from around the world lately, luring them to its league.
Some analysts believe the kingdom’s aggressive investment in soccer is aimed at raising the standard of the game in the country and adding value by increasing the value of the league.
However, some critics have accused the kingdom of “sportswashing” – using the sport to deflect attention from human rights issues – and of trying to keep the monarchy afloat by quelling discontent among the younger generation.
On Nov. 21, CNN reported that “Saudi Arabia is trying to shake up the world order of soccer,” 카지노사이트 referring to the kingdom’s recent aggressive signings of soccer players.
According to consulting firm Deloitte, Saudi Professional League (SPL) clubs spent close to $1 billion (approximately $1.33 trillion) in the recent transfer window, bringing in a total of 94 players from major European soccer leagues, including the French Ligue 1, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, and English Premier League.
Among them are some of the world’s best soccer players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Karim Benzema, and Sadio Mane.
The SPL explained that bringing them to Saudi Arabia will help “increase competitiveness on and off the pitch and nurture young Saudi talent.”
The sovereign wealth fund (PIF) that drives Saudi Arabia’s sports investments has also gone beyond player acquisition, buying Newcastle United of the English Premier League.
While it remains to be seen whether the investment will make a significant difference to the kingdom’s soccer prowess, it will help the SPL become more competitive, according to CNN.
“The matches between Al Ittihad and Al Hilla attract 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 people,” Simon Chadwick, a professor of sports and geopolitical economy at France’s SKEMA business school, told CNN, “which is comparable to Chelsea versus Arsenal or Manchester United versus Manchester City.”
The kingdom will also host the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in December, and has entered the race to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2027.
There were also reports that the kingdom would compete with Greece and Egypt to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup, but Saudi Arabia has reportedly withdrawn its bid.
Some have argued that the kingdom is attempting to “sportswash” to cover up its human rights abuses and violations of women’s rights.
However, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman was unperturbed by the accusations, stating, 온라인카지노 “If sportswashing increases our gross domestic product (GDP) by even one percent, we will continue to do so.”
Some analysts say the Saudis are investing in sports to preserve the dynasty. By turning the attention of young people under the age of 30, who make up half the population, to soccer, the kingdom hopes to stem anti-government protests led by them.
While the industry creates jobs and inward investment, “equally important is the security of the royal family,” Chadwick said, adding that “meeting the needs of Generation Z has emerged as a new social challenge for the kingdom.”
At the same time, Saudi Arabia has seen a significant increase in the number of people detained for making negative statements about the government and dynasty on social media, Chadwick said.
Amnesty International reported that criminal prosecutions in Saudi Arabia increased significantly between last year and this year, and that a total of 196 executions were carried out last year, the highest number in 30 years.
What also sets Saudi sports leagues apart from those in other countries is their opacity, CNN noted.
In fact, in the wake of the controversial merger of Saudi Arabia’s golf tournament LIV Golf with the U.S. Professional Golf Association (PGA), the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) demanded details from the government on how the merger happened and how the new entity would be structured and operated.
According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics’ 2019 Sovereign Wealth Fund Transparency Survey, the PIF ranked last out of 64 countries.
“Unless there is an independent body overseeing all leagues, no one knows for sure what the accurate information is,” Chadwick said, noting that player transfer values and salary information could be inflated or deflated for political purposes.
The SPL, meanwhile, insists that the Saudis are investing in the same way that Europeans are, and that there is no problem.
“There was a time when everything was centered on Italy and there was a time when it was all about Spain,” SPL general director Michael Emenalo told CNN, “and we’re trying to take the opportunity to compete on a fair scale in the industry and improve everything that exists in the industry.” 카지노사이트존