With blockbuster trades galore and projected French superstar Victor Wembanyama going No. 1 to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Draft dominating the news cycle in the basketball world, news that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is nearing a deal to buy a stake in the Washington Wizards, as well as the Washington Capitals of the NHL and Mystics of the WNBA, has flown largely under the radar.
That’s somewhat curious as, although not as big a deal as the PGA Tour selling its soul to Saudi Arabia in a merger with LIV Golf, the Qatar Investment Authority investing in a trio of American major sports leagues is certainly worth noting.
Though the deal has not been announced officially, it’s believed that the Qatar Investment Authority is buying a 5% stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, as part of a $4.05 billion deal, according to The Associated Press. Per Sportico, which first reported the transaction, this is the first time any sovereign wealth fund has bought into ownership of an American team.
Power Broker Who Lost 66 Employees on 9/11 Helped Create PGA-LIV MergerJimmy Dunne joined the PGA Tour’s policy board as an independent director in 2023
“In November 2022, the NBA Board of Governors decided to permit passive, non-controlling, minority investments in NBA teams by institutional investors, including university endowments, foreign and domestic pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds, subject to a set of policy guidelines adopted at that time,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told The Athletic. “All such investments require league review, NBA Board approval and compliance with the policy. The NBA Board is currently reviewing a potential investment by QIA in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards, among other sports properties. In accordance with the policy, if approved, QIA would have a passive, minority investment in the team, with no involvement in its operations or decision-making.”
Since the NBA oversees the WNBA, the deal will go through for both leagues if the board signs off on it. As for the NHL, league deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the AP that the investment had already been approved.
Getting in bed with Qatar, which was complicit in at least 500 migrant workers dying at construction sites in the lead-up to last year’s World Cup, is certainly risky business. The Middle Eastern country has blatant human rights issues and deemed homosexuality to be illegal. Still, as the PGA Tour deal just made clear, money talks and America’s most prominent sports leagues apparently have zero problem listening, no matter the source.