WTA tennis relocates to Riyadh as Saudi Arabia increases its involvement in various sports.

Saudi Arabia is aiming to enhance its global image and transition away from reliance on oil through its involvement in sports. The kingdom has increased its presence in various sporting enterprises, with a particular focus on tennis and football.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has sponsored the men’s tennis rankings and has taken a majority ownership in four Saudi Pro League clubs. Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in football is evident through the signing of high-profile players and the country’s successful bid to host the 2034 World Cup.

The controversy surrounding Saudi Arabia’s sports involvement lies in its human rights record, particularly concerning women’s rights. Critics have labeled these initiatives as an attempt by Saudi Arabia to mask its poor human rights record, a practice known as “sportswashing.”

In addition to tennis and football, Saudi Arabia has also made significant investments in boxing, horse racing, and wrestling. The country hosts major events in these sports and has established partnerships with international organizations such as WWE.

The involvement of Saudi entities in MMA further demonstrates the country’s growing footprint in the global sports industry.

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