Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has been making some dramatic moves in the sports world this year, from its investments in its domestic soccer league to LIV Golf’s merger with the PGA Tour. For some observers, it’s led to concerns about human rights violations and “sportswashing,” while for others it’s prompted discussion of how a massive influx of cash could change individual sports. And it prompts another question as well: what sport might be next?
If a recent article from The Guardian is any indication, the answer might be men’s tennis.The Guardian‘s Sean Ingle spoke with Carlos Alcaraz — currently ranked second in the world — about the future of the sport. Alcaraz referred to recent talks between the PIF and the Association of Tennis Professionals, as well as his own belief that the tour might take him to Saudi Arabia before long.
“I have never played an official tournament over there, and let’s see how it is going to be in the future,” he told The Guardian. “But, well, I have no doubts that I will play over there in the future.”
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As reported by the Daily Mail and other outlets, the head of the ATP Tour, Andrea Gaudenzi, confirmed that the tour had held talks with the PIF regarding investments. Gaudenzi’s comments to the Financial Times suggested his approval of the golf tours’ merger. “If you’re a golf fan you want to see the top players playing against each other. You want one ranking and you want one simple story,” he said.
Preliminary talks with an investor are far from a guaranteed outcome. But the PIF’s massive quantities of funds and their seeming interest in making the nation more of a sports destination make it easy to see what Saudi Arabia would get out of such an arrangement, should the fund put money into tennis. Did the odds of such a deal go up after the LIV Golf/PGA Tour merger? Probably. The more sporting entities the PIF invests in, after all, the easier it will be to invest in the next one.