‘Oil money’ getting stronger… Asian Cup held in the Middle East for 3 consecutive times
The influence of ‘oil money’ is growing more and more in the international sports world. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup has been held in West Asia three times in a row, and Middle Eastern countries are actively investing in various sports fields such as golf and car racing.
At the 33rd General Assembly held in Manama, Bahrain on the 1st (local time), the AFC selected Saudi Arabia as the host of the 2027 Asian Cup. India, Iran, Qatar and Uzbekistan withdrew their bids to host the event, while Saudi Arabia was the sole candidate.
This marks the third consecutive Asian Cup held in the Middle East for the first time since its inception in 1956. The 2019 Asian Cup was held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and in 2023, the venue changed from China to Qatar in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19). In the 2023 tournament, Korea also entered the bid, but was pushed back by Qatar.
The reason why the center of gravity of Asian football has shifted to West Asia is that Middle Eastern countries have dominated the AFC with enormous sponsorships and sports diplomacy. In fact, from the 2023-24 season, the AFC decided to switch the AFC Champions League (ACL) from the existing spring festival (spring to fall) to the autumn festival (fall to spring). It is a favorable decision for West Asian football clubs, who are holding their leagues on a spring festival. On the other hand, East Asian countries, which are holding leagues on a spring and autumn basis due to climate and other factors, are experiencing difficulties in managing their clubs and maintaining the condition of their players.
In addition, Western Asian countries are investing generously in the soccer market, such as the Saudi football club Al Nasr, which spent an astronomical amount (annual salary of 75 million dollars by 2025, about 92 billion won) in December of last year to recruit world-class soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. is continuing
The Middle East is expanding its influence not only in football but also in all sports. The Summer Asian Games will be held consecutively in Doha, Qatar (2030) and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (2034), and the 2029 Asian Winter Games will be held in Neom City, Saudi Arabia.
In particular, Saudi Arabia launched the LIV competition, a match against the existing US Professional Golf (PGA) Tour, with a sovereign wealth fund, and also attracted the world’s best car racing competition, Formula One (F1), in 2021. It does not stop here, but is aiming to co-host the 2030 World Cup with Egypt and Greece. 카지노사이트
However, there are criticisms that the active attraction and investment of sports events by Middle Eastern countries is part of ‘sports washing’. It is said that West Asian countries are trying to wash the issue of human rights oppression of women and sexual minorities through sports. Human Rights Watch, an international human rights organization, said, “It is necessary to remember that Saudi Arabia did not even allow women and girls to watch stadiums until just a few years ago.” It would be much better to go for fundamental human rights reform.”