Why it ruins the sport:

Now you may not be familiar with the term sportswashing, but sportswashing is basically a last-ditch effort for countries with bad reputations to try and improve them through sports. There have been many examples of this, mostly in the 2010s and the early 2020s. Here are some examples.

Saudi PIF acquires Newcastle United for 700 million:

For those who don’t know the Saudi PIF (Public Investment Fund) is basically Saudi Arabia’s bank account under MBS (Mohammed Bin-Salman) the prince. At the time Newcastle supporters were really frustrated with the current owners and wanted a change. They got more than they bargained for and they celebrated. Now, that impulse is natural but then they realized that it’s Saudi Arabia who owns their team now with their near infinite amount of oil money. This ruins the sports by making players’ wages and values inflate due to all the money spent. Now they can become a super team and buy all of the best talents European Football can ask for and break the league while being tainted by being owned by a country notorious for human rights abuses and more.

1936 Berlin Olympic Games:

In the 1930s Germany was awarded the Olympics while being occupied by the Nazi Party. Naturally, the propaganda and hatred throughout this time were shielded from those who were not citizens.  This showcased the Third Reich of Germany in a false light and as an outcome, many people were blinded by the injustices in Germany at this time.

Qatar Sports Investments buys majority stake at Paris Saint-Germain F.C.:

In 2011 QSI bought a big stake in PSG and hasn’t looked back since. They have broken Ligue 1 in France by them becoming the best team there and a top club in Europe. Qatar Sports Investments is an investment group in Qatar for sports. This buy broke the league and made it an uphill climb for everyone else but PSG.

Christiano Ronaldo agrees to contract with Al Nassr in Saudi Pro League:

This one is the most recent example. Christiano Ronaldo, arguably the most popular person on Earth was terminated from Manchester United after an interview with Piers Morgan. Where he not only bashed his own team but his manager as well. Right now he has agreed to a 3-year deal with Saudi team Al Nassr for 207 million a year. This ruins the reputation of the soccer in question. Hypothetically he would be making almost 4 million a week which is way way more than what 99.9% of the world makes. Now, he has still not signed and is still focused on the current World Cup but if this stands Ronaldo will lose respect and many fans.


The most important takeaway is that sports washing is a way countries try to re-vitalize their image and try and sway public opinion. And there are more examples I didn’t cover like LIV Golf, Schalke 04 Gazprom, China state-hosted events, and more. In reality, the only way countries can have people see them in a better light is to actually reform. Until then, we’ll be stuck in this cycle for a long time.