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The Saudis are going to `be Saudis.
As I’ve written about, the ‘Kingdom’ of Saudi Arabia is not playing around when it comes to making major moves in the sports and entertainment world. They are literally spending billions of dollars to assert their influence, a term that has become known as “sports washing.”
I’ve argued that it’s essentially a divert and distract move. Like a dog going “Squirrel!” the Saudis are using their gold, jewels, glitz and glamour to entice (legally bribe) companies, franchises, industries and now individual athletes to sign themselves away to the Saudis via Saudi Private Investment Fund.
The most recent example involves star soccer player Kylian Mbappe, who could make ONE BILLION DOLLARS in a new soccer contract with the Saudis.
$1 BILLION TO PLAY SOCCER!
According to multiple reports, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal soccer club is preparing to make a $1.1 billion offer to the star striker. The reported deal would include a $776 million salary for ONE season, while also including a $332 million transfer sum that would be paid to Mbappe’s current Paris Saint-Germain club.
The fact that this much money is being paid for a soccer player shows just how the country are beginning to set the global sports agenda. Typically, the western world was the epitome of sports dominance. Despite the vast majority of American’s not caring about soccer (besides Lionel Messi) the Saudis don’t care – which is a very telling sign and only further enhances my argument of potential long-term consequences.
THE SAUDIS ARE CALLING THE SHOTS
I’m all about people getting money. Capitalism. Awesome. Great. Go for it. Let’s ball.
But you can not tell me that there isn’t a double-standard or at least some legitimate concerns the more that we see Saudi Arabia just doing as they please.
America is a country or morals and standards, no? Saudi Arabia needless to say has uhm, questionable ones – from human rights abuses, to their non-acceptance of LGBTQ+ athletes, and oh yeah – that whole geo-political thing as well. Yet here we are with many companies and sports industries climbing over each other to make deals with the Saudis. Be it the WWE, Formula 1 and the upcoming massive fight between Francis Ngannou vs Tyson Fury!
Not to mention the interest the Saudis have taken in the NFL, of which I believe we are only a matter of 5 years or less before a game is played in Saudi Arabia as the league continues to expand throughout Europe and beyond.
THE SAUDI DOUBLE STANDARD
Whenever I raise questions regarding taking a step back before willfully handing over not only our money in the form of ratings and sponsorships to the Saudis, but also our American values, I’m met with the counterargument that “Well, tell that to our government!”
I have. Have you ever heard two wrongs don’t make a right? Also, the “well everyone else is doing it!” argument seems to go against the very precipice of what America was founded on in the first place, no?
Unfortunately as we saw with the PGA Golf’s gutless selling out to LIV Golf, it looks like the powers-that-be only care about the financial incentive. That should be worrisome to many across the sports world. With the likes of Kylian Mbappe possibly making ONE BILLION dollars, you don’t think American athletes are going to start having second thoughts? If they start demanding more money, there’s no doubt they will start entering into Saudi partnerships. And with that suddenly comes team owners, board members, investors and more paying much more attention to Saudi Arabia and wondering how they can get a piece of the action.
And if America finds itself in a future geopolitical conflict with the Saudis? Will these same companies willfully hold the country accountable? It’s an interesting question as the lines are increasingly becoming blurred, and that should be a concern.