New Owners? The Arab World Took Over European Soccer

The Arabs dominate European soccer with their money. What could be the consequences?.

Nasser Al-Khelaïfi

This has both negative and positive consequences. Let's see what they are. Photo: Flickr-Doha Stadium Plus Qatar

LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: ¿Los nuevos dueños? El mundo árabe se tomó el fútbol europeo

In the last decade, we have seen the Arab world take over soccer. In 2011 Qatar Sports Investments took over PSG, the most popular team in France. In 2016, Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri took over Everton. Since 2010, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani has owned Málaga CF.

We could go on naming examples, but it is clear that, from the Arab world, there has been a growing interest in venturing into the great European soccer teams as a business.

This has both negative and positive consequences. Let's see what they are.

The good

On the positive side, we can see greater cultural diversity in club leadership. These positions, which were traditionally held by white Europeans, could benefit from having a greater number of visions and cultural backgrounds.

The cultural expansion of the Arab world to Europe also makes it possible to enrich both cultures and reduce the gaps of prejudice and racism that exist between them.

Of course, it is impossible not to mention that the petrodollars to which Arab clubs have access have given us some of the most unusual super teams in history. It is difficult to think, for example, that 10 years ago a team could have a squad that included three players of the stature of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé.

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The bad

As for the negative consequences, these same petrodollars put us in an awkward position. How can we ask financial Fair Play, regulation of their finances, from teams that can spend the wealth of nations? The gap between small and big teams will continue to grow even more if buyers with unlimited wallets continue to arrive in European soccer.

The effort of the Arab world to show its economic power also masks the human cost that some of its actions have left. For example, we can recall the nearly 6,500 migrants who have passed away since Qatar hosted the World Cup.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that when iconic institutions like soccer clubs, which have a long history and traditions, are passed into the hands of millionaires, this can have the effect of alienating supporters. While some may embrace the wealth and success that often accompany it, others lose the "connection" they had with teams.

And it is worth remembering that for many fans around the world, soccer is going from being a sport that belonged to the working classes and that contributed to the unity of a group to an incomprehensibly huge business that is sold in merchandise, tickets, and subscription services.