Sports track money

El deporte sigue el rastro del dinero

One month is left before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, the most controversial in history due to everything that the choice of venue means in terms of politics, economy, social, humanitarian and of course sports. Critical voices calling for a boycott were like a cry in the desert, it was not better said, and only minor actions are now known to have been carried out by some elections. The truth is, one of the big events with FIFA’s decision has also fallen to the power of the money in a trend that has proven unstoppable at the highest level in sports and on the pure and simple business front.

Euroleague clubs are looking for allies in Dubai. | PHOTO: EUROLEAGUE


The Qatar World Cup could be the start of what would have looked like an event if it weren’t for the fact that petrodollars made everything possible. In 2029, Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in Neom, a city resort built specifically for this purpose, in the middle of the desert, with an investment of $500,000 million. The Persian Gulf country also wants to bid for the 2030 World Cup, but above all for the 2040 Olympics and when it comes to bidding, the money coming from that part of the world is unbeatable and no one seems to be able to resist.

The elite sports business is run on all fours: private money, television and audiovisual rights, public money, and revenue from ticket sales. The last two have lost weight in recent years and fans have been reduced to mere consumers with no voice or voting rights, so the other two continue to support a network that is starting to become difficult to maintain in traditional ways. Some sports benefit from the extravagant revenues of the audiovisual channel, and already the majority, at least among the most followed worldwide, are those who embrace the money of Arab countries. It’s almost an anecdote in the midst of an unstoppable tsunami that the Spanish Football Super Cup will be played in Saudi Arabia until 2029.

Golf and racquet tennis, seemingly dormant in their structures, were shaken by the emergence of LIV Golf and Premier Padel, with multi-million dollar projects spawning in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, respectively. When it comes to golf, the PGA Tour and European Tour see their dominant positions threatened by the Saudi rivalry that caused Eugenio López-Chacarra to make almost $5 million two weeks ago; This is the biggest award a Spanish athlete has ever won in a single event. competition. And LIV Golf also wants to capture the emblematic Valderrama course as one of its venues, with a bid of thirteen million Euros over five years. At Padel, it was the International Federation that allied with PSG owner Qatar Al-Thani family to undermine the hitherto hegemonic World Padel Tour with dizzying prize pools and capitalize on the expansion of a clearly growing sport.

In 2023, there will be a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, which MotoGP can emulate from 2024. The NBA played its first friendly game in Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago and the Euroleague made no secret of it. He is in talks with Dubai so that sooner or later a Final Four will be won and even a competitive team formed in that emirate. Saudi Arabia also wants to shoot the Italian football Super Cup, and the Super Globe is played here these days, that is, the World Cup of handball clubs.

Elite sport doesn’t seem like a window where you can make demands for a more just world that respects human rights, or resolve some issues that express double standards. Whoever is without sin… For example, DP World and Aramco, two companies in the Persian Gulf, are major sponsors in golf, and many athletes have a residence and base of operations in Dubai for logistical and economic reasons. It’s all a matter of money, a lot of money, and its trail leads to Arab countries competing for an image wash and sooner or later attracting the biggest entertainment industry of the 21st century into its arms.

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