Bloomberg revealed in a new report issued this week that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund considered an attempt to add Formula 1 motor racing to its growing portfolio of sports investments.
But Liberty Media Corp, which owns F1 along with SiriusXM and the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team, was not interested in selling, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.
However, the report says that PIF remains interested in buying the sport and is believed to be a serious bidder should Liberty Media opt to sell.
After months of debate, the Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr on a two-year contract. According to reports, Ronaldo will receive £172.9 million-a-year through 2025 as part of the deal.
Saudi Arabia’s sporting ventures in recent years have included the purchase of Premier League club Newcastle United FC, while it has hosted major boxing matches and golf tournaments.
The Kingdom also hosted several international sports events, including the Formula 1, the Spanish Super Cup, and financed others such as LIV Golf.
In 2022, the World Cup champion Lionel Messi becomes a paid partner of Visit Saudi, a subsidiary of the country’s tourism authority, and an ambassador promoting the country’s 2030 Vision amid human rights concerns. Messi is also expected to play a role in Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the 2030 World Cup.
The Atlantic magazine commented on the deal, saying that Messi ‘sold himself to the devil.’ As well, Cristiano Ronaldo also signed a very uncomfortable deal with the devil.
Sportswashing is a term used to describe corrupt or authoritarian regimes who use sport and sports events to whitewash their image internationally. Saudi Arabia has long been accused of using sport to whitewash its poor human rights record at home and abroad.