“I Don’t Care”: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Dismisses ‘Sportswashing’ Accusations

“I Don’t Care”: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Dismisses ‘Sportswashing’ Accusations

Edwin Kiplagat
September 21, 2023 at 1:35 PM
  • Saudi Arabia have shaken the world of sport in the last few years with their major investments
  • They have put large amounts into football, golf, MMA and more via the Public Investment Fund
  • Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is not bothered by claims of 'sportswashing'

From buying a top Premier League club and launching LIV Golf to Saudi Pro League clubs spending extravagantly in the summer transfer window, Saudi Arabia - through the Public Investment Fund (PIF) - have shaken sports in the last few years.

This has led to widespread accusations of 'sportswashing'. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has addressed these accusations, which are still a major talking point in the sports world.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Saudi Pro League, LIV Gold Crown Price Mohammed Bin Salman
The Saudi Pro League has seen rapid growth this year. Photos by Hossein and Leon Neal.
Source: Getty Images

The PIF bankrolled LIV Golf in 2022 with at least $2 billion, per the New York Times, disrupting the men's game, overseen for generations by the PGA. The move attracted plenty of criticism, but LIV recently merged with the PGA to bring an end to months of dispute.

In June, the PIF was set to take control of four teams in the Saudi Pro League. They chose the four founding members of the SPL, namely Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad, Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr, per the Athletic.

In the transfer window, those clubs attracted some of the biggest names in football including Karim Benzema, Neymar Jr., N'Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez, and Sadio Mane.

Saudi Prince addresses 'sportswashing' claims

However, the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince said if 'sportswashing' helps improve his country's growth, then he will continue doing it.

"If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by 1%, then we'll continue doing sportswashing. I don't care [about the term]. I have 1% growth in GDP from sport and I am aiming for another 1.5%. Call it what you want - we are going to get that 1.5%," he said via Fox News.

The Saudi Pro League recorded a net spend of €889 million ($950mil) this summer. Only the Premier League recorded more (€1.29 billion), per ESPN.

The country has been accused of human rights violations and using sports to cleanse its reputation. The Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund has estimated assets of $620bil, per the BBC.

Ronaldo, top stars light up SPL

In a previous report, Sports Brief highlighted the continued impact of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and players of their calibre in the Middle East country.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner and former Manchester United superstar truly made his presence felt in Al-Nassr's 3-1 SPL triumph over Al Raed recently.

On the other side of the capital at Al-Hilal, Neymar finally graced the field, making a cameo appearance in their dominant 6-1 victory over Al Riyadh.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Editor- Other Sports
Cristiano RonaldoNeymarKarim BenzemaSadio Mané