Has football’s last hermit nation opened up to the world?

8 July 2021

Saudi Super Cup
Photo: Alamy Saudis and other middle-eastern fans watch teams Al-Ahli vs Al-Hilal during the Saudi Super Cup match finals at Craven Cottage, Fulham Football Club in August 2016.

 Privatisation of Saudi football clubs and investment platform opens up the Kingdom to foreign investors.

Saudi Arabia is the Middle East’s most successful football nation and an Asian football powerhouse but questions remain about its human rights record and respect for rule of law.

Changes part of a wider strategy that may culminate in a World Cup bid or the creation of an international sports broadcast network.

“Saudi Arabia is a young, very young population, an economic driver in the region. On the face of it, investing in Saudi sport would be a no brainer,” one expert says.

But despite all the massive opportunities there is also another side of the coin.

James Corbett corbett@offthepitch.com

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Sport has launched a deregulation programme designed to open up the country’s football clubs and other sporting institutions to foreign investment. The programme is part of a wider strategy which may see the launch of a Saudi-backed TV sports network or open the country up to a World Cup bid.

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