Sportswashing: how Saudi Arabia lobbies the US’s largest sports bodies

Saudi Arabia’’ s reasonably unexpected interest in sports can be interpreted as a soft power technique to assist sidetrack from the kingdom’’ s continuous human rights abuses and the Yemen crisis

Last month, the foreign registration documents for Saudi Arabia’’ s 2018 lobbying project in the United States were provided online. The files clarified the kingdom’’ s aggressive sportswashing technique that consisted of conferences and company calls with the commissioners for Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), along with authorities from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and the Los Angeles Olympic Committee.

Saudi Arabia’’ s tactical interest in sports and home entertainment occasions goes back to November 2016 when crown prince Mohammed bin Salman purchased the kingdom’’ s General Sports Authority– the federal government body accountable for the advancement of sports in the kingdom –– to establish a Sports Development Fund that strengthened sports activity in the nation. The goals of the fund were to privatize football clubs to increase involvement, promote brand-new sports occasions, and include 40,000 tasks to the financial market as part of Vision 2030 , an advancement proposition that set out a contemporary, technocratic future for Saudi Arabia in which the nation would be devoid of its heavy reliance on oil.

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