Over the past eight years, Saudi Arabia's sports strategy has transformed from a simple reputation management tool to a comprehensive soft power plan encompassing regional diplomacy, economic diversification, global impact, and a continuous stream of entertainment for the nation's youth.
Few understand the kingdom’s recent transformation like Stanis Elsborg, the senior analyst for Danish initiative Play the Game, who recently published a groundbreaking piece of research titled “The power players behind Saudi Arabia's sports strategy.” His research, which mapped out the inner circle behind Saudi Arabia's sports endeavour and revealed more than 300 Saudi sponsorships in sports, has been tremendously useful to my own work over the past few months.
On this week’s episode of the Sports Politika podcast, Stanis delved into his research, as well as continued expansion of Saudi’s influence in sports. He also discussed the lessons learned from Qatar 2022 and what fans, journalists and activists can do to centre human rights ahead of the 2034 World Cup in Saudi Arabia.
Sports Politika is a media platform focusing on intersection of sports, power and politics. Support independent journalism by upgrading to a paid subscription ( or gift a subscription if you already have your own). We would appreciate if you could also like the post and let us know what you think in the comment section below.