“If sportswashing is going to increase my GDP by way of one percent, then I will continue doing sportswashing” – this was said by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, as he spoke with Fox News on the issue.
The country has been increasingly focused over the last few years on diversifying its economy as part of its ‘Vision 2030’ strategy by investing heavily into both men’s and women’s sports.
This however has been met by some criticism in the West that has labelled the Gulf country’s agenda as ‘sportswashing’ – a practice that critics claim Saudi Arabia is using to mask its human rights.
Earlier in June, the Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed tournament LIV Golf announced that it is merging with competitors PGA and DP World Tours in a deal that took the golfing world by surprise.
This year also saw Saudi Arabia commencing talks with India to establish a new T20 cricket league. The Gulf country has also made significant moves in MMA, as well as in football where it managed to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and several other big names from Europe.
With this in mind, as of now it seems that the accusations of sportswashing remain nothing more than a voice in a desert, as the Prince of Saudi Arabia explained to Fox News that he is currently happy with how things are going in terms of the country’s growing GDP.
“I don’t care. One per cent growth of GDP from sport and I’m aiming for another 1.5 per cent – call it whatever you want, we’re going to get that 1.5 per cent.”