The NBA might be open to getting Saudi money.
A United States Congressional committee may have to start looking into more Saudi Arabian money flowing into American sports. The Saudi’s have decided that it is not enough to have merged its LIV Golf entity into the Professional Golf Association or take over the ownership of the English Premier League’s soccer franchise, Newcastle United, or having a major stake in boxing. The Saudi government wants more. The Saudis are setting up a multibillion-dollar company that will invest in sports. And that could mean putting money in a National Basketball Association or a Women’s National Basketball Association or a National Hockey League franchise. Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is willing to buy a roughly 5% stake in the parent company of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics as part of a $4.05 billion deal. Qatar’s human rights record is bad but the Saudi Arabian human rights record is worse and that could have Congress taking a further look into the Saudi plans to invest in American sports beyond the golf business.
Qatar’s so-called success in the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a host may open the door for Saudi Arabia to back a bid with Egypt and Greece for the 2030 event. Saudi Arabia got a merger with the PGA because of money although that deal could be struck down as part of a violation of American antitrust laws and other countries where the PGA operates not approving the deal. Last December, the NBA opened the door for Qatar investment in its teams. “The NBA Board of Governors recently decided to allow direct, passive investments in NBA teams by institutional investors,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “All such investments are subject to league review and NBA Board approval.” None of the passive investors can take a controlling ownership stake in a team. Sports is a business.
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