While the premier league resumes on 19 June behind closed doors, the Premier League is the theatre of a fair free-for-all between the pétromonarchies of the Gulf on the background of the struggle for influence and violations of human rights. Manchester City and Newcastle United are at the heart of a battle between, on the one hand, saudi Arabia and its ally, the united arab Emirates, and, on the other hand, Qatar, in open conflict since 2017.
The recent purchase by the sovereign wealth fund of saudi arabia Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund of the club Newcastle United has revived the one-upmanship between the three countries in order to control the crown jewels of the Premier League. The investment fund of Riyadh, which manages the surpluses from hydrocarbon revenues, is the armed arm's economic crown prince and strong man, prince Mohammed bin Salman. Belonging to the sheikh, qatari Nasser al-Khelaïfi, the pay tv channel beIN Sports intends to disrupt this acquisition before the british courts. The owner of the PSG, accuses the broadcaster competitor beoutQ, in the service of the Saudis, of having hacked its broadcasts of Premier League matches.
The stakes enormous for the Premier League
in addition, the operation Newcastle United was conducted by the famous banker british Amanda Staveley, who had been the eminence grise of the sale, in 2008, Manchester City to sheikh Mansour, brother of the chief of State of the united arab Emirates.
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Manchester City is now in the crosshairs of UEFA for violating the laws of financial fair play in transfers. The champion of England title, was sentenced in February to a fine of 30 million euros with a ban of two years from participation in the champions League. The club in Lancashire has appealed the punishment.
It no longer has the Premier League, the competition of football's wealthiest and most prestigious in the world. The economic challenges of the global market for tv rights, sponsors, advertisers, merchandising, race transfers are massive. This manna was broadcast in more than 200 countries, is the subject of all lusts of the share of large foreign assets. Sheikhs and businessmen rushed into the breach since the takeover by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovitch of Chelsea in 2003. Result of this setback, fifteen of the twenty clubs in competition during the season 2019-2020 belong to the billionaires from elsewhere.
The pétromonarchies are not interested only in football, but also other disciplines, like boxing, athletics and golf. This bulimia cache their new paradigm : the " soft power ". According to the inventor of the concept, Robert Nye, professor at Harvard, it is the ability of a State to achieve its purposes through means other than military force, economic or diplomatic. It is the power of the culture and creative industries, the art of living, universities, media, or the sport as the owner of the "soft power" a smart power.
prince Salman, sheikh Mansour, or Nasser al-Khalaïfi have understood the issue of "soft power" to win abroad. "The bet is small compared to the benefits in terms of influence on the international stage. The foot also allows you to forget the excesses of authoritarian regimes in terms of violations of the rights of man, " says John Williams.
Laxity of the authorities
The NGOS have understood this, who are campaigning against the stranglehold of saudi arabia on Newcastle United. "The Premier League can become the tenure of regimes that intend to use it to cover the acts deeply immoral ", warned Amnesty International. Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated in Istanbul by the secret services of Riyadh, has asked Prime minister Boris Johnson to block the sale of Newcastle United. "Criminals and tyrants are not welcome in the championship the most respected in the world ", she argued.
The defenders of the sector foot the near-eastern highlight the charitable action high-end foreign owners, as is attested by the support programmes to disadvantaged young people and urban regeneration. As for the british government, he refuses to intervene in the major maneuvers of the foot in the name of the hostility to economic patriotism. The ulterior financial explain this laxity : through the City, the kingdom has always played a leading role in the recycling of the petrodollars without too much focus on the origin of the funds, to take advantage of it wisely.
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